Friday, January 25, 2013

Drayton McLane: Investing in Education

There are three associations of college presidents in Texas, and each year since 1977, the Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors (CPUPC), the Independent Colleges and Universities in Texas (ICUT) and the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC) have all partnered together to present  the prestigious Mirabeau B. Lamar Award for outstanding service to higher education in Texas.

Past winners include former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby, Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, businessman Red McCombs, the Exxon Foundation and the Welch Foundation.

This year I was honored to be asked to serve on the selection committee for this award.

Yesterday, in Austin, I was present for the ceremony honoring the 2013 recipient: Drayton McLane, Jr. of Temple, Texas.

McLane is chairman of the McLane Group holding company, founded in 1992, and is the CEO of McLane Advanced Technologies, a global logistics and technology solutions company he founded in 2004.

McLane, 76, grew up working in his father's grocery business that had been established by his grandfather in 1894. Earning his undergraduate degree in 1958 from Baylor University and an MBA in marketing at Michigan State in 1959, McLane became president and CEO of the family business in 1978, assuming the chairmanship in 1992. The grocery distribution network evolved into a computer-based technology business for McLane, who sold the grocery business to Sam Walton in 1990. As a baseball fan, I know McLane best as chairman and CEO of the Houston Astros from 1993 to 2011.

A philanthropist with both his money and his time, McLane has served in leadership roles on the boards of several heath care and educational institutions. He is a major benefactor to both Baylor University and the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor. He has served as chairman of the Board of Regents at Baylor University, where the McLane Student Life Center and McLane carillons are named in his honor. He is currently a trustee for the Baylor College of Medicine. At UMHB, McLane Hall is named in his honor, and he sponsors the McLane Lectures, featuring notable speakers such as former President and first lady George H.W. and Barbara Bush.

McLane told the assembled college and university presidents yesterday in Austin that philanthropy has been a great joy, and that there is no greater return on investment than investing in the education of our young people.

I have seen this same joy in many of our LETU friends who understand that we have been blessed so that we may bless others.