Donor Relationships Impact More Than the Bottom Line
Friend and longtime supporter of Southeast, Douglas Greene of Vancouver,Wash., has been most generous over the past decade.
In 1999, he and his late wife, Janet Paar Greene, a Southeast alumna, established an endowed scholarship that has helped numerous students achieve degrees in English education.
Three years later, Greene established two generous deferred gifts in Janet's memory that will ensure her passion for the arts lives on at the new River Campus. In addition to these planned gifts, Greene will be donating several of Janet's works of art to include in the Museum's collection. In acknowledgment of Greene's generosity and in remembrance of a Southeast alumna, a section of the Southeast Missouri State Regional Museum on the River Campus will be named for Janet Paar Greene.
But Greene's partnership with Southeast has only just begun."Every time I came to visit, everyone has been so welcoming," he said. This trend has continued during several campus visits to share his business experiences with students at the Harrison College of Business. On his last visit with his wife, Heather, Greene issued a $50,000 challenge to encourage alumni giving to Southeast. Greene's $50,000 challenge was met and surpassed within two months, thanks to the generosity of Southeast's alumni!
The response to his challenge and the entrepreneurial spirit of the campus has sparked his latest collaboration with Southeast, expanding Greene's partnership to the area of his own passion-entrepreneurship.
Greene, owner of Skytech, known as "the father of remote controls for the gas fireplace industry," has developed more than 25 unique remote control systems for gas fireplaces/logs sold in the United States, Canada and Europe. Greene has also developed a remote control that turns Christmas lights on and off with the touch of a button-no more getting poked in the head with tree branches or knocking off heirloom ornaments.The remote is shaped like Santa Claus and turns the lights on and off to the tune of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."
Remote controls from the simple to the complicated are Greene's business. The Christmas light remote was developed about five years ago, but he says he hadn't done much marketing with it. "I've retired four times, and I'm trying to stay there," Greene said. So he decided to give the remote to the students of Dr. Jack Sterrett's MBA entrepreneurship class so they can put the classroom theory into practice.
The students have been divided into teams, and their challenge is to develop the best marketing plan for the remote.The winning team will have the chance to implement theplan through Southeast's Innovation Center, which opened in the summer of 2005 to foster small business growth in the Southeast Missouri region.
"If done properly, this project could generate significant revenue for the University," he said."It's not just technology, but a chance to set up a real business through the College of Business-maybe even involve other alumni."
Greene's dream includes expanding the business into other remotes-fun remotes for kids to turn on their bedroom lights, fundraising remotes for nonprofit organizations, marketing tools for use by businesses, or even mobility aids for seniors. At a recent strategy session at the University, Greene shared his vision that, by implementing this "apprentice" approach, entrepreneurial skills would be taught across all disciplines, giving students in business, arts, sciences or education these much-needed tools for success.
Greene says he hopes to take Sterrett's students to the Hong Kong Electric Show, so they can see how developing and importing products from overseas works and then be able to implement the expansion ideas he sees in their future.
Regardless of what the students do with the technology and new business, Greene's latest gift will benefit Southeast and its students tremendously.Truly the Greenes will have left their legacy at Southeast-a legacy that will keep their passions for art and entrepreneurship alive in the students of today and tomorrow.