Chapman University’s Board of Trustees is comprised of an amazing group of individuals from many different walks of life who have a common bond – their commitment to Chapman University. As students at Chapman, we came to know many of their names simply by being around campus and seeing their last names on the buildings we attended classes in, ate lunch in, or even on the dorms we lived in. On February 21st, immediately following the President’s Circle breakfast prior to President Doti’s State of the University Address, I made a decision. I decided that I wanted to do whatever I could do to connect the trustees of Chapman to our group, Chapman50. My primary idea to achieve this goal was to reach out to Chair of the Trustees, Mr. Doy Henley, and schedule a meeting with him.
The purpose behind this meeting was to:
1. Learn about university priorities, initiatives, vision and strategy. I wanted to share that with Chapman50 members so we can help the university achieve these top level priorities. I wanted to get everybody on the same page to accomplish goals together.
2. Keep university leaders up to date on what Chapman50 is doing, what and who we are as a group, and keep them informed about Chapman50’s priorities and objectives.
3. Educate Chapman50 members about the leaders and trustees of Chapman. We should not only be able to identify trustees in a crowded room, but we should know about their history –professionally and their contributions to Chapman. These are the men and women who built the university we all love and enjoy today so we should know as much about them as possible.
4. Inspire Chapman50 members to continue to grow with the university - show the path to becoming even more involved at Chapman and potentially becoming a future trustee themselves.
Doy Henley’s History with Chapman
Mr. Henley first became involved with Chapman University in the early 80’s through his personal relationship with George Argyros. Mr. Argyros had begun his tenure as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Chapman University in 1976 and maintained his position as chairman until 2001, the longest term of service in that position in Chapman’s history. At the time, Chapman was a college, working towards becoming a university. Working diligently under the leadership of Mr. Argyros and other university leaders, Henley invested a significant amount of time and money, along with other contributors to help the development and transformation of Chapman College into the Chapman University we all know today. “I was at Chapman about three times per week, working alongside a great group of people, lead by Mr. Argyros. We all had a purpose to make an impact in Orange County and becoming a leading educational institution.” says Henley. That type of time commitment was not what Henley had expected, but he found purpose and energy in the work as he realized that real, tangible, and substantial changes were happening at Chapman.
Henley’s experience in operating multiple businesses was a major way he contributed to Chapman. The skills and experience Henley had acquired over decades of doing business certainly were useful in helping to make decisions for the university, despite a university being different than a business. I asked Mr. Henley how he was able to devote so much time to Chapman, while at the same time being a busy businessman. His response was something I could relate to: “I had a flexible schedule at that point in my life because I was in business for myself and had worked many long hour days. I also had smart people that I could trust for the daily operations of my companies. I trusted my companies to people I knew would show up every day, be on time, be ethical and were team players. By having these dependable, driven people on my team running the businesses, it gave me time to give back to a number of philanthropic causes.”
Henley recalls that one of the most significant turning points of Chapman University was the decision the board of trustees made to appoint Jim Doti as president. “Jim is absolutely the best at what he does. I believe we have the best university president in the entire country. We are privileged to have Jim as our president. His contributions to Chapman since he became the president in 1991 are incredible.”
Henley’s Current Chapman Objectives
Listening to Mr. Henley describe everything that he works on was inspiring and energizing. One of his main roles is to run the Trustee meetings. When I asked him what it was like to try to get such busy and successful people all together at Chapman University at the same time for the meetings, his response surprised me. “I am honored to serve with such a committed group of trustees. Serving as their Chairman is not a difficult task when we have such great trustees that truly are committed, involved, and purposeful. Our attendance at the trustee meetings is very high as compared to other universities.”
Trustee meetings are very active and cover general university business, as well as ongoing large projects. “The Musco Center for the Arts has been an ongoing project for over five years now, which is typical for projects of that scale. It takes a very coordinated and diligent effort by the trustees and many other people at Chapman to make something like that happen.”
One of Henley’s main objectives is to implement programs at Chapman to empower students to become “job ready” as they graduate from Chapman. In addition, Henley is actively working with the business community on both a local and national scale to create job opportunities for Chapman graduates immediately after they finish their degrees as well as internships for current students. This focus on creating career opportunities for students truly speaks to how spot-on and in touch Mr. Henley is with the current student body and their needs. I personally could tell how passionate he was about this, and I could tell that with that much energy and purpose behind this objective, Mr. Henley will make some big moves to create these opportunities for students.
Henley’s Take on Chapman50 & His Advice
“I am very aware of Chapman50. I even planned on attending your group’s retreat but had a last minute conflict, and was disappointed I could not be there with you. We have very big plans and visions for Chapman50. I know that your group is expanding quickly with very high quality new members and that you’ve already had some great events. I believe that Chapman50 is a very important group,” says Henley.
When I asked Mr. Henley for his advice for me personally and for other members of Chapman50, he was very clear: “Focus on your top two things in life. Number 1 is your family. And number 2 is your business/career. Everything else is number 3.”
Having breakfast with Mr. Henley was an experience I will never forget. I am extremely grateful and thankful for the opportunity to learn from a man who has achieved so much, is highly respected and is remarkably humble. I credit my involvement with Chapman50 for providing me with this opportunity, and I am looking forward to learning from other trustees in more meetings such as this. I hope that by sharing my story of meeting with Mr. Henley that everyone will know more about him and will be inspired to follow in his path. My dream is that friendships between trustees and members of Chapman50 will begin to develop. Together, with all of us on the same page, we can all do big things for Chapman.