Room 370 Wohlers Hall will henceforth be known as the Wolfson Faculty Lounge.
Mark Wolfson (’73 BS Accounting and Finance, ’74 MAS Accounting and graduate at the top of both of his classes) and his wife Sheila have named the Faculty Lounge through a generous $250,000 gift to the College.
In making this gift, Wolfson said that honoring the faculty was a personal priority.
“As a student, the greatest gift I was ever given was being exposed to the teaching and research craft practiced by some of the most caring and committed professors I have ever met. I will be forever grateful for that. The College of Business faculty hold a particularly soft spot in my heart,” he said.
In a dedication ceremony held September 14, acting dean Greg Oldham commented on the Wolfsons’ ties to the College and support of its faculty and staff.
“Their gift is a testament to the sense of community among the College extended family and the belief in what the College is doing,” Oldham said.
Ira Solomon, R.C. Evans endowed chair in business and head, Department of Accountancy, noted that Wolfson has established a huge presence in scholarly journals and has amassed many teaching and research awards. He also spoke to the level of excellence Wolfson achieved while here at the University of Illinois, reflected in his presence on the bronze tablets at the undergraduate library, as well as his contributions to taxation.
“Along with Myron Scholes, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1997, Mark Wolfson has truly transformed and revolutionized how we think about taxation,” said Solomon. “Their joint work outlines who really pays taxes and how taxation can be regarded as a strategic input to the organization design question.”
Solomon said he first met Mark Wolfson in 1976 when he entered the Ph.D. program at the University of Texas where Wolfson was completing his Ph.D. in accounting and was already starting to make a name for himself.
“Although the Texas Ph.D. program has a large number of participants, Mark Wolfson was clearly the person everyone looked up to,” said Solomon. “In fact, if you look up the words ‘excellence’ and ‘respect’ in the dictionary today you’ll see Mark Wolfson’s picture,” he quipped.
Addressing Wolfson, David Ikenberry, professor of finance & chair, Department of Finance, praised his ability to straddle academic and corporate worlds throughout his career.
“To see the academic accomplishments you’ve made and the skill and tenacity to have a flourishing career in private equity is noteworthy,” Ikenberry said.
Prior to the dedication ceremony, Wolfson spoke to Department of Finance Academy students and shared his views on the world of private equity as well as leadership. He emphasized the importance of being ready to tackle tomorrow’s issues to the classroom of outstanding undergraduate Finance majors.
“It’s important to expose yourself to analytical frameworks in order to address broader problems, as you’ll surely face a different set of challenges in the future than you’re facing today,” Wolfson told the students. “Also, expose yourself to some of the smartest people you can, and also have fun, because excellence in your chosen career requires hard work over an extended period of time for most of us, and it is difficult to sustain the requisite effort if you are not enjoying what you are doing.”
Mark Wolfson is a managing partner of Oak Hill Capital, a leading private equity firm, and has been working with the firm since 1992. He has taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business since 1977, including a term as the Dean Witter Professor and a term as Associate Dean. He also has taught at Harvard Business School and the University of Chicago and has been a visiting scholar at M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
Sheila Wolfson attended the University of Illinois for two years as an undergraduate student and earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Texas. She earned a master’s degree in special education with a specialty in learning disabilities from Santa Clara University in California. She has served on several boards on behalf of children with special needs, and she fondly remembers her time on campus that included volunteering at Lincoln State School in Urbana.
The Wolfsons have a daughter Laura, 25, who is an alum of Washington University in St. Louis and a son Charles, 23, who is a recent graduate of Duke University.