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The defining philosophy behind San Antonio businessman Bill Greehey’s philanthropy is evident in his stated motivation: “You are not a success until you share your success with others.”
Greehey has more than done his part in sharing his significant success. With a $1 million gift to the St. Mary’s University business school, already named for Greehey thanks to a $25 million naming gift in 2005, Greehey becomes the most generous donor in the university’s history.
“We cannot thank him enough,” St. Mary’s President Thomas Mengler said in a news release. The gift is part of Mengler’s Defining Moment Comprehensive Campaign, which has raised $138 million since November 2017, with an overall goal of $150 million.
An alumnus of St. Mary’s class of 1960, Greehey’s gifts now total more than $50 million, helping fund scholarships, the Greehey Scholars Program for undergraduates, and the Greehey MBA for Values-Driven Leaders and MBA for Professionals.
Tanuja Singh, dean of the business school, acknowledged that the school has benefited “enormously” from Greehey’s gifts, citing the quality of its faculty and that its students are in demand by employers.
Valero Energy, which Greehey led for 32 years, is a frequent employer of St. Mary’s graduates, as is NuStar Energy, of which he remains chairman of the board.
Of Greehey’s example, Singh said, “We are continuing his work by developing ethical leaders who are leading purposeful lives and giving back to the communities where they work and live.”
The acknowledgment is mutual, with Greehey crediting Singh for her leadership. “She has just absolutely done a tremendous job,” he said, including achieving national recognition for the school’s programs.
The scholars program named for Greehey promotes what he calls “servant leadership,” based on his own experience. “All that we have is a gift from God,” he said, “and we have the responsibility to share our success with others, and I have truly been blessed.”
Greehey cites the Marianists who run St. Mary’s as a reason for his success, and for his philanthropy. Former business school Dean Brother Conan in particular helped Greehey secure loans when he couldn’t afford school, having come from a poor, working-class family in Iowa.
Because of his association with the school, people assume he’s Roman Catholic like the Marianist order, but in fact he’s Lutheran, he said. Still, the Marianists showed him such kindness that their example has lived on through his conscientious business practices and promotion of the volunteer spirit, he said.
“it’s just such a great feeling to give back and help others,” he said. San Antonio benefits as well, Greehey said, in that many of the school’s students stay in the city after graduation. “All the money that I give is really to San Antonio,” he said.