Longtime WashU benefactors Judy and Jerry Kent have again stepped up with a new challenge designed to raise $2 million toward new and increased scholarship pledges, multiyear pledges and endowed scholarships aimed at supporting WashU Olin students.
Dean Mark P. Taylor announced the Kent Scholarship Challenge on Thursday at the annual Scholars in Business event, designed to recognize students who have benefitted from scholarships—as well as the many benefactors who have contributed to support them.
“Judy and Jerry’s commitment to scholarships is evident in their ongoing generosity that dates back to 1998,” Taylor said at Thursday’s event. “They have personally impacted at least 75 Olin students through the Kent Scholars Program and hope to inspire others to give back and support the bright and deserving Olin students who are the next generation of business leaders.”
The Scholars in Business program was established in 1979 with 17 business scholarships at Washington University. In the ensuing 42 years, more than 6,000 students have benefitted from nearly 500 scholarships, including more than 45 Legacy Scholarships. These are scholarships given by donors who themselves received a named scholarship when they attended Olin.
Jerry Kent, BSBA ’78, MBA ’79, and Judy previously established the Kent Scholars Program at Olin in 2008 with a $3 million contribution. The program awards five four-year scholarships to first-year students in the bachelor’s in business administration program.
This new challenge will provide a dollar-for-dollar match for every new or increased annual fund gift up to $50,000. It will also provide up to a $100,000 match for new endowed scholarships. The challenge begins effective immediately and will remain in place until the $2 million goal is met. Click here for more details on the Kent Challenge.
Jerry Kent began his career as a CPA with Arthur Andersen and moved in 1983 to build a career in the cable television industry, starting with the upstart Cencom Cable Associates, where he eventually became CFO before it was sold in 1991. He co-founded Charter Communications in 1993, leading that firm to become one of the 10 largest cable operators in the US with 1.3 million customers.
Katherine Dudley, BSBA ’22, is a Wood Scholarship recipient, part of Olin’s Scholars in Business Program. This year, Howard and Marilyn Wood have generously committed to match all new and increased gifts and multi-year pledge payments for undergraduate and graduate scholarships—up to a total of $400,000, through June 30, 2021. Dudley shares how the Wood Scholarship has impacted her studies.
I remember my first visit to Washington University. When I walked on campus I just knew this school was the best fit for me.
I remember telling my mom on the campus tour, “This is it. This is where I have to go to school. I love everything about it. It’s perfect.”
My mind buzzing with possibility, I started working on my application the day I got back home. I applied early decision, which meant that I checked my email obsessively throughout the beginning December, hoping with my whole my heart that WashU would welcome me to its freshman class.
There was one day, though, that I did not check my email. It had been a busier day than usual, and my dad took one of my three sisters and me to watch a collegiate volleyball game. We arrived home to the house decorated with red and green balloons and streamers: My mom had seen the news of my acceptance to the school of my dreams. My future never felt brighter!
Then came the tough part. How could my family possibly afford to send me to WashU?
I am the oldest of four girls, and I grew up rarely seeing my dad due to his ever-changing, chaotic work schedule. He was always there for me—and when it came to my education, he said, “That school is worth every penny of the tuition. If she can get in, I’ll make it work. I’ll add shifts, I’ll do whatever it takes because Olin is worth it, and so is Kat’s future.”
For me, to hear his response now fills me with joy that my dad was so proud and loved me so much that he was willing to add to his work load. Yet, hearing his response also adds new perspective. Extra shifts would mean that he would be away from my mom and sisters even more than he already is.
With my family and future at Olin in mind, I got to work writing essays for scholarships. I applied for each of the five scholarships available to Olin students. And in the same way the news of my acceptance to WashU became an unforgettable moment, Dean Malter’s phone call to personally tell me he loved my essay changed my life once again. In my essay I had written about my experience with Athleta, a national athleisure fashion company, and the nonprofit that I started in my hometown called Koats4Kids. Both experiences reflected my passion for helping kids and teens through clothing.
I was on the treadmill completing a track workout at the local rec center when my mom ran over shouting, “Kat, Kat, Dean Malter is on the phone!” I immediately pulled the emergency treadmill cord, jumped off, grabbed the phone and ran to the empty dance room to find some quiet.
Breathing heavily and drenched in sweat, my heart felt like it was going to explode out of my chest from nervous excitement. My mind was spinning. Dean Malter shared that Olin would like to offer me a full-ride scholarship.
In shock, my legs gave out from under me and I collapsed into a crouched position. I turned to my mom and with tears in my eyes mouthed, “full-ride.” And I can honestly say I don’t remember much of what happened right after that because I was so happy and excited that I just started to laugh and cry, and I think I remember my mom cheering and crying too. The best part of this story was telling my dad, who has been my biggest supporter and has made so many sacrifices for my family and me.
The Wood Scholarship has given me the gift of time and focus. Without the pressure to find part-time work, I have been able to commit myself wholeheartedly to academics, track and leadership roles at Olin. I will be able to study abroad, represent Olin as a rising intern and engage fully in all of the opportunities Olin provides outside of the classroom. The college experience I have dreamed of is now possible because of the generosity of the Wood family. My family’s and my profound gratitude for the Wood Scholarship is matched by our pride as a WashU family.
I am also grateful for my growing relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Wood. Their generosity continues to change the lives of students like me. In later years, when I am a successful Olin alumna, I will pay the Wood’s kindness forward, with the goal of impacting the lives of future Olin students, just as the Woods have forever changed mine.
About Howard Wood
Howard Wood, BSBA ’61, grew up in the lead mining community of Bonne Terre, Missouri, just sixty miles south of St. Louis. His parents, both schoolteachers, wanted him to attend college, but they did not have the financial means to support his education. Howard and his brother, Donald Wood, BSBA ’66, received scholarships from Henry Day, president of a mining and manufacturing business in Bonne Terre.
After graduating from Olin, he went on to have a successful accounting career at Arthur Andersen & Co., quickly rising through the ranks. Switching gears, he took on the roles
of CFO and CEO of Cencom Cable Television before co-founding two telecommunications companies, Charter Communications Inc. and Cequel III LLC.
Howard has been a champion of WashU Olin Business School for decades. Since 1995, Howard has served in leadership roles for the Olin Alumni Association and Olin National Council. In 1998, he established the Wood Leadership Fellows Program, which evolved into the Wood Scholars Program in 2016. Wood Scholars receive significant awards to attend Olin each year.
Howard also served on the Washington University Board of Trustees beginning
in 2000 and was named an emeritus trustee in 2011. He has been heavily involved in the success of the university and Olin and hopes to ensure a bright future for even more students through this challenge.
On most Friday nights in the 1970s, you might find teenage Mark Taylor outside a pub in the UK’s working-class Warwickshire community hawking “American hotdogs” to the patrons who had just tipped back a pint or two.
Taylor made the circuit throughout the weekend, from the pub until 2
a.m., to the soccer ground on Saturday afternoon, to a nightclub on Saturday
night, pocketing 20% of the proceeds to cover basic needs—school supplies,
clothes and a few meals here and there.
Taylor knew he needed to ease the burden on his parents and three
brothers—who either worked for—or were destined to work for—the local auto plant
in the gritty industrial town. He had different dreams in mind.
Skip ahead six years. With innumerable hotdogs and a year working as a
tutor behind him, Taylor had become the first in his family to complete the
British equivalent of high school. With straight A’s on his exit exams—and intervention
by a visionary headmaster—Taylor became the first in his family to attend
And not just any college: The oldest campus in the English-speaking
world—tracing its origins to the 11th century—Oxford University, where
Taylor had earned a seat to study philosophy, politics and economics.
suppose arriving at Oxford and being able to measure myself against people with
different backgrounds—that was the first time I realized how transformational
this could be,” Taylor said, recalling his early days at university. “Without
financial assistance, it would not have been possible.”
That financial assistance came in the form of British
government-sponsored scholarships available to high-achieving students who had
been accepted by a university. With straight A’s on his exams, a seat at Oxford
and working-class parents, Taylor not only qualified to have his fees covered,
but he received a small government stipend to help with living expenses during
“You’d get one check at the start of each term, so you had to be very
careful not to blow the lot in the first week,” Taylor said.
Taylor is particularly keen on the importance of undergraduate
scholarships, which he views as the first and most formidable barrier. Once he
had earned his undergraduate degree, Taylor was able to leverage that to get
his first job in a professional career track.
From there, he could finance his further education, including a master’s in economics at Oxford, a PhD in economics from the University of London, a higher doctorate in finance from from the University of Warwick and a master’s in English renaissance and romantic literature from the University of Liverpool.
“For me, education was a totally transformational experience,” said Taylor. “The difference is not only in material well-being, but also in terms of ways you can enjoy and view the world in different ways.”
Merry, MBA ’82, and Jim Mosbacher have committed $500,000 to support annual and endowed scholarships for Olin Business School students. Their gift was structured as a challenge to attract new Eliot Society Members, and it matched new Eliot Society membership gifts at any level. Merry is currently president of the William Greenleaf Eliot Society, and she and Jim are both partners at St. Louis-based investment firm Edward Jones.
“We’re committed to making education affordable for all students. As Eliot Society members, our gift not only supports scholarships for talented students, but also world-class faculty, innovative research, and outstanding academic programs,” Merry said. The
Mosbachers have been significant supporters of Olin and the Eliot Society since 1983. They are also role models and mentors for more than 200 WashU alumni—more than half from Olin—who are employed at Edward Jones. Like the Mosbachers, dozens of alumni working at Edward Jones volunteer their time and expertise in Olin classrooms as guest speakers and with students through mentoring programs and through their financial support for the Edward Jones Scholarship Program.
Merry Mosbacher was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2012. She was recognized as a St. Louis Woman of Achievement in 2013 and has been named one of the most influential businesswomen in St. Louis by the St. Louis Business Journal. Today, as principal of Insurance and Annuity Products at Edward Jones, she oversees more than $6 billion in sales a year.
Learn more about ways you can help Olin continue to be a world-class institution for business education.
Sid Guller, BSBA ’47, worked for a year to save enough money to pay for his freshman year at Washington University. “Tuition was $125 a semester, plus books, plus an activity ticket,” Guller recalled. “I think the activity ticket was $15.” In order to stay in college, Guller worked one and sometimes two jobs during the semester and full time during the summer break. He wanted to study engineering like his older brother Harold, BSEN ’39, but soon realized he was better suited for business.
Today, Guller is chairman of St. Louis-based Essex Industries, the privately held defense and aerospace manufacturing company he founded with his brother in their parents’ basement in 1946. Their first product, an F-214 Radio Noise Filter, was the first of many aircraft controls and components that led to the company’s participation in virtually every major military and commercial aerospace program for the past 70 years.
Sid Guller recently committed $500,000 for the Bobbi Guller Memorial Scholarship he established at Olin Business School in 2011 in memory of his wife, Bobette, who died in 2010. He also pledged $300,000 through the Guller Foundation for the Guller Joint Program Scholarship benefiting students in the 3/2 program, which gives undergraduates the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering and an MBA in five years.
The Guller Foundation—the charitable arm of Essex Industries—has supported the 3/2 program since 1986.
“There are many intelligent and skilled young people who don’t have the means to attend Washington University,” Guller says. “I support scholarships so they can receive an excellent education, then graduate and apply what they learned to benefit society.”
A tireless champion of Washington University, Sid Guller has served on the Olin Business School National Council since 2000 and the Olin Capital Resources Committee since 1999. He has supported multiple annual and endowed scholarships and provided funds to name two spaces at the business school, the Bobbi and Sidney Guller Lounge in the Knight Center and the Guller Classroom in Bauer Hall.
He has received Distinguished Alumni Awards from the university and Olin, which also honored him with the Dean’s Medal for exceptional dedication and service.