Elizabeth and David Tate, the leadership team behind Memphis, Tennessee, distributor Signet, Inc. (PPAI 101157, D8)—Elizabeth is chairman and CEO, David is president—have been actively engaged with the University of Memphis Fogelman College of Business and Economics for several years, facilitating intern programs and classroom lectures to introduce the students to the promotional products industry. Earlier this year, they were named Distinguished Friends of the College and named to the university’s Hall of Fame. Their involvement has been furthered recognized with an invitation for David Tate to join the university’s Board of Visitors, a subset of its Board of Trustees..

Speaking to PPB Newslink, Tate noted that Signet’s involvement with the university was sparked by the Promotional Products Education Foundation’s (PPEF) University Scholarship Program. He says, “The PPEF program model is a combination of scholarship offered, engagement via an internship program, attendance at internship fairs, participation on panels and giving classroom lectures. We offered the scholarship with the request to become engaged as much as they would let us.”

The university’s Board of Visitors was formed in 1989 to guide the president of the University of Memphis and perform committee work. Its activities include enhancing the image of the university, contributing to the selection of presidents, sponsoring faculty awards to encourage research and outreach, and assisting the university in programs, fundraising and strategic planning.

On his role in the board, Tate says, “Advising and fine-tuning new initiatives and programs, providing strategic input and developing solutions for mid-level fundraising, the grass roots and large capital fundraising is well in-hand, but the mid-level fundraising is an initiative for the next year.”

Signet has benefited from its engagement with the university, with Tate noting the company has gained business and employees through its involvement, as well raising industry visibility. He provides this advice for companies interested in following in their footsteps: “Pave the way with two things: No.1, a scholarship, and No. 2, demonstrate interest in their students. When you take an interest in a university’s students, they take interest in you. The most visible signs of your interest in their students are attendance at internship fairs, internship programs at your company and giving classroom lectures. Hiring their students is also huge for them.”

Read more about their internship program in PPB’s February issue.