Dan and Chris Richards think of their philanthropic and volunteer involvement with Fuqua as an extended “thank you” for Dan’s experience in the MBA program and for the warm welcome the school gave Chris, a Duke Law School graduate, as a member of Fuqua’s Board of Visitors. Their legacy includes endowed scholarships that benefit 14 students each year, a chaired professorship, a team room, and the Dorothea Peterjohn Collection in the Ford Library, which highlights leadership and ethics and is named in honor of Chris’ mother.
Dan’s and Chris’ Fuqua journey began in 1978 when Dan, an undergraduate mathematics major, applied to Duke’s School of Business Administration while Chris was attending Duke Law School. Unsure of how they were going to pay for the entirety of his degree, the Richards used their life savings to pay for the first year of Dan’s program. Though risky, that initial investment proved worthwhile when Dan was awarded the Martin L. Black, Jr. Fellowship in his second year. This financial assistance not only helped fund his tuition, but offered stability throughout the second half of his graduate degree.
While Dan went on to a career in accounting, Chris transitioned from a private practice to an in-house position at FedEx in 1984, working her way to executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary before retiring in 2017. Dan and Chris maintained close ties to Fuqua from the start. Dan fondly recalls former Dean Tom Keller tracking him down to congratulate him in person for passing the CPA exam. In addition to Chris’ service on the Board of Visitors, Dan also served on Fuqua’s Alumni Council for several years.
From their student experience, Dan and Chris know how the stress of an academically rigorous and competitive degree program can be compounded by financial uncertainty. This is one of their primary reasons for giving back so generously to Fuqua, particularly in their establishing scholarship endowments during the Duke Forward campaign that support seven first-year and seven second-year Daytime MBA students each year. The Richards believe it is important for them to model philanthropic investment for students. This has driven them to be actively involved with meeting their student scholarship recipients, and they have encouraged the students to maintain correspondence with them and comradery with one another.
One of the Richards’ Scholars, Anastasia Solvaniuk, Daytime MBA ’18, has work experiences ranging from human resources at a Chinese start-up, strategy functions at a Ukrainian oil and gas company, and multinational power and automation business development. Anastasia’s interests combine qualitative and quantitative aspects of corporate strategy, tempered by her humanitarian concerns. At Fuqua, she has worked to increase her knowledge of the energy sector, strategy, and finance to create business models for measuring the impact of companies that “do good” for their employees and the world at large. Anastasia co-chaired Duke’s 2017-18 Energy Week.
With a background in engineering, Richards Scholar Angela Tenney, Daytime MBA ’18, has used her MBA experience to pivot to the energy sector, pursuing a concentration in energy finance and decision sciences, specifically involving value and risk. Her quantitative analysis expertise informs her business plan strategies for valuating extrinsic tariff costs pertaining to climate change. Anticipating increased regulation costs for carbon emissions, Angela sees a career opportunity for tracking cleaner energy practices that benefit both the company and the environment. She joined Anastasia Solvaniuk in co-chairing Duke’s Energy Week this year.
The Richards’ philanthropy has extended during the Duke Forward campaign beyond scholarships to creating an endowed professorship, aiming to advance Fuqua’s ability to acquire and retain a world-class faculty. Former professor Wes Magat was an important part of Dan and Chris’ student experience, even working on a project with Chris despite the fact that she was not an MBA student. As a member of the Board of Visitors, Chris has seen the school make advancements in up-and-coming areas like technology, requiring that the school hire innovative faculty as demand for expertise in new areas grows.
“We believe in the mission of the school, and we are delighted to be able to play an active role in supporting the talented students and faculty who make Fuqua a top business school,” said Dan. “My degree is more valuable each day as the school continues to make an impact and grows in prestige.”
“The Richards have been loyal volunteers and donors for many years to Fuqua,” said Dean Bill Boulding. “Their additional contributions during the Duke Forward campaign were critical to the school’s success and will leave a lasting legacy as Fuqua continues to innovate to address changing needs.”