DENTON (UNT), Texas -- The University of North Texas College of Business celebrated the newly endowed Dean Henry Hays Professorship for Exemplary Service by honoring an up-and-coming professor, a distinguished former dean and the donors whose support made the professorship possible.
Danielle Cooper, associate professor of management, was named the inaugural recipient at a luncheon Sept. 2 at Dallas' Park City Club. The professorship provides recognition and salary support for a three-year term and aims to help the College of Business retain top faculty members.
"I am honored and grateful to receive this professorship, which will support research projects that might not have been possible otherwise," Cooper said. "I am especially excited to have these resources available to support data collection efforts with doctoral students, which provides them with important learning opportunities as they begin their research careers."
Alumnus Byron Baird ('78 M.B.A.) and his wife, Marilyn, established the professorship to honor Hays' longtime commitment to the UNT College of Business, a career that spanned more than 40 years. Baird, the former chairman of the board for Mrs. Baird's Bakeries Inc., has known Hays since he first began his business education at UNT in the 1970s, and the two developed a friendship outside the classroom.
Baird said he felt the endowed professorship was the best way he and his wife could make a lasting impact on the College of Business, and he encouraged fellow UNT supporters to give to the areas on campus that ignite their passion.
"I know my support goes to a tremendous cause, and it creates a legacy that will benefit UNT students and faculty for years to come," he said.
At the luncheon, UNT President Neal Smatresk praised Cooper's innovative teaching and research. Smatresk said securing faculty members who are standouts in their fields is critical to UNT's success, and commitment and passion from supporters like the Bairds help the university reach that goal.
"The finest way to give back is by making sure your institution is capable of holding on to the best and brightest. Those great faculty are the core that makes a great education," Smatresk said.
UNT College of Business Dean Finley Graves said the endowed professorship will help faculty bring distinction to the university through engaged teaching, innovative research and impactful community service.
"Endowed professorships give us the opportunity to honor those faculty members whose commitment to student success exemplifies the very best in higher education," he said.