On December 12, Tom and Barbara Hughes donated half a million dollars to the Michael J. Coles College of Business. The generous gift by the Atlanta couple will fund the new Hughes Leadership and Career Program, a college advisement and career guidance program for students enrolled in Kennesaw State’s Coles College of Business.
The Hughes Leadership and Career Program will instruct business majors on how to succeed in finding a job and starting their career. The program will open this year at the beginning of the fall semester.
“The program is designed so that people who are going out [and trying] to get a job have an opportunity to learn whatever skills they need to get through the interview process,” Hughes said. “They learn what to wear, what to say during the interview process. I think if we can help them not go home and live in their family’s basement, then we’ve done something for them.”
What is a philanthropist?
Tom Hughes received his Master of Business Administration in 2008 and last fall, he taught a graduate class in philanthropy. Despite the fact that he instructed a course on finding worthwhile organizations to donate money to, Hughes will not describe himself a philanthropist.
“Surprisingly, [a philanthropist] is not something you call yourself,” Hughes said. “I have a friend who has it on his business card. It has his name and underneath, it says ‘philanthropist’… I guess I am but it’s not something you call yourself. At least I don’t think so.”
When asked if being considered a philanthropist was something he wanted, Hughes quickly rejected that notion as well.
“It’s not something I strive to be,” Hughes said before his wife, Barbara interjected, “Yes you do.”
“I strive to be a philanthropist?”Tom Hughes asked.
“You strive to give back,” Barbara said.
“I think everyone has a responsibility of giving back,” Tom said.
Tom Hughes went on to explain that he gave everyone who graduated from the Coles College of Business a membership to the Alumni Association in 2013. Hughes’ gift made it easier for graduates to donate money back to KSU and believed that giving a charitable gift that allows an opportunity for each graduate to give back is the best kind of charity.
“How are you going to ask people to give back if you don’t first lay something on them?” Hughes asked. Because of their membership gift, more people gave in 2013 than the previous year. I believe, in part, that is because we had given them an opportunity to do that.”
Beyond KSU, Tom and Barbara Hughes are also board members for the Alliance for Children Everywhere, a non- profit organization that builds schools and crisis nurseries in Zambia. This year, Barbara will be taking her thirteenth team to the African country for three weeks to educate and aid children of different ages and various needs.
“We give to ACE,” Barbara said, “because it does help other people.”
For more information on the Hughes Leadership and Career Program at the Coles College of Business, go to coles.kennesaw.edu and for more information on the Alliance for Children Everywhere, go to childreneverywhere.org.