trustees recognized

trustees recognized

Three accomplished professionals served the university long and well
Trustees 232w

Not-for-profit institutions such as Johnson & Wales University are entities chartered by the state to exist. They are awarded tax-exempt status because their missions serve the greater public good. Hospitals, public schools and charitable organizations are authorized to govern themselves through a board made up of members of the public. The assets of the institution are placed in the hands of the members of this board and they have a responsibility to preserve and use them to achieve stated institutional purposes. It is a public trust.

JWU has been fortunate to have a legion of accomplished and dedicated individuals who have, in the last 40 years, given freely and generously of their time to oversee and shape the institution. It is their duty to view, understand and support the university’s strategies and vision. They review finances, assess academics and govern at the highest level. Each makes a significant commitment of time to ensure that Johnson & Wales University fulfills its mission.

In the last 20 years, the university has made many positive transitions including the opening of the North Miami, Denver and Charlotte campuses. Its board helped to shepherd growth. Three of its most revered members are about to retire: Dana Gaebe, JD, ’09 Hon., William Tiefel ’98 Hon. and Guy Snowden ’92 Hon. “They are all three special trustees with aggregate service of 44 years,” says Board of Trustees Chairman John Yena ’06 Hon.

A trustee since 1989, Dana Gaebe has had perfect attendance at board meetings. He served as co-chair of the Finance & Budget Committee for 2002 and 2003, and chair from 2003 to 2008. A senior partner for Gaebe & Kezirian in Providence, R.I., he is a member of the Rhode Island and Massachusetts Bar as well as the United States Tax Court. In personal and professional life, his work on behalf of youth, community and legal ethics has received highest commendations from such august bodies as the Rhode Island Supreme Court, the R.I. Bar Association and Boy Scouts of America. He was awarded a Bronze Star Medal for his service in the United States Armed Forces during the Vietnam War

“Of all the trustees who ever served, he probably understood the particulars of the school business better than most,” Yena says of Gaebe, a trustee throughout his 15 years as university president. “Whenever Dana had something to say, it was worth listening to. Smart, low key, he talked the talk and always asked great questions. He’s the prototype for a trustee. He brought value to the table — the best of the best.”

Guy Snowden has been a trustee since 1993. In his 16 years on the board, Snowden served as chair of the Compensation Committee from 2003 to 2008 and chair of the Nominating Committee (now the Committee on Trustees) from 2003 to 2005. An entrepreneur and international businessman, his computer expertise revolutionized the lottery industry. In 1980 Snowden and two partners acquired the assets of Datatrol’s Gaming System Division and founded GTECH Corp. Snowden served as CEO of GTECH and was chairman from 1987 until his retirement in 1998. Snowden Hall on the Providence Campus is named in his honor.

“In a word, Guy is a visionary; quick to see opportunity where others see only risk ... More than anything else, Guy had the courage of his convictions, the courage to criticize, the wisdom to find ways to make things better. I always felt he was a thoroughly engaged trustee,” Yena says. Snowden championed the modern governance structure that exists today at JWU, Yena notes. “Fair-minded, honest, loyal, he was the initial chair of many of the important trustee committees and has left a legacy of structure that will live beyond his service.”

William “Bill” Tiefel has served as a trustee since 2001, stepping in to fill a mid-term vacancy. Tiefel is chairman-elect of the board of CarMax., retired vice-chairman of Marriott International Inc. and chairman emeritus of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. LLC. He is a director of Bulgari Hotels and Resorts and Lydian Private Bank.

“Bill Marriott identified Bill Tiefel as the individual Marriott employee who would best represent Marriott with Johnson & Wales and it turned out to be so,” Yena says. Tiefel was instrumental in creating JWU’s covenant with Marriott, the university’s first such alliance with an employer, he notes. “He understood the value of the large number of JWU alumni — 1,000 plus — who worked at Marriott and always exhibited a delight in J&W graduates. Our graduates impressed him as being practical young men and women with the right kind of skills, but more importantly the right attitude — coming in to work, proving themselves and eventually growing in their careers.”

In 2003, the hotelier’s establishment of the William R. Tiefel Professorial Chair in The Hospitality College was “unique in higher education,” according to Yena. “Bill insisted it not be held for a long time by a single individual, but by a practical professional for a year only. Funding the distinctive post, Tiefel has helped attract a “hall-of-fame grouping” of five industry leaders as recipients to date. As a trustee, he brought real-world perspective and common sense to the table.

Expressing deepest gratitude for the contributions of the three as they retire, Yena is quick to underscore their roles in the university’s evolution. “Trustees are supposed to be outsiders and overseers, responsible for governance. These were more like insiders — typical JWU employees: long serving, committed, contributing, participating.

“I feel touched each of them has heartstrings tied to the institution. I don’t think trustees generally get as attached as these three,” Yena says. “If I were to orient a new trustee today and wanted to align that trustee with a mentor as an example of effective trusteeship, I’d be hard pressed to find three better examples.

“Many of us can identify the individual fingerprints of these three gentlemen upon the university and those fingerprints will be felt for years to come.”

Image left to right: Dana Gaebe, JD, ’09 Hon., William Tiefel ’98 Hon. and Guy Snowden ’92 Hon.