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
“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,
“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.