Business alumni donate $1 million in honor of Dave Ganz
Dave Ganz is surrounded by a group of friends at a concert venue in Chesterfield, Missouri. Over the course of the warm summer evening, about 20 people will emerge from the 4,000-plus crowd and approach him just to say hello.
Many lead the conversation with, “You won’t remember me, but I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your class.”
It’s been 15 years since Ganz stood at the front of a lecture hall at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, but he continues to be one of the institution’s most recognizable figures. A portion of his notoriety can be attributed to his 51 years of employment at UMSL, but his impact is more complex than that.
“When I think of Dave, I think of two things – enthusiasm and commitment,” said Tom Migneron, one of Ganz’s former students. “There must have been 250 or 300 people in his accounting classes, but he just engaged us all with his enthusiasm for a subject that is a little bit difficult to be enthusiastic about. And the fact that he has been involved with the university for almost 51 years is probably the most telling sign of his commitment.”
It is this level of loyalty that continues to inspire former students in their professional pursuits as well as their philanthropic efforts.
Since an initiative was announced in 2010 to name a classroom after the beloved professor, 143 alumni and friends contributed nearly $1 million. Today, students walking from Express Scripts Hall to Anheuser-Busch Hall through the Porter Walkway are greeted by striking signage marking the entrance to the Dave Ganz Room.
For many alumni, a classroom inside the new home of the College of Business Administration seemed like a perfect way to honor Ganz and his commitment to UMSL.
“I think a classroom epitomizes Dave’s beginnings and where he has had so much impact in the lives of his students,” said Sandra Van Trease, an accounting alumna. “So many of us got to know Dave initially because of his role as an educator. It’s fitting that it’s a classroom because that’s where Dave has initiated so much of his impact.”
Ganz, who now serves as an alumni and constituent relations coordinator for the business college, was hesitant about the $1 million goal at first, but along the way he was awestruck by the donor response.
“When they made the initial announcement, I thought the goal was awfully ambitious,” Ganz said. “Now being at the back end of that campaign, it’s very humbling that people are that thoughtful and so very willing. I’ve also received many nice comments, and it just always makes you feel good.”
The classroom, which is located on the lower level of the newly dedicated Anheuser-Busch Hall, seats 50 and is marked by a distinctive tiered layout. It is also wired with high-grade projection equipment and drop-down microphones.
“It is the only classroom that is tiered in Anheuser-Busch Hall,” Van Trease noted. “I think that’s fitting because Dave is pretty unique.”
When asked if he would like to return for a lecture in the new space, Ganz was a little tentative.
“I stopped teaching in 2002, but I will tell you very candidly, I do miss it to this day,” Ganz said. “But I would probably be something of a fossil in the classroom because my methodology is the old methods rather than the modern ones.”
Even if instruction methods have evolved, Ganz’s presence in the classroom will never go out of style.
“Dave taught people not just the technical aspects – he taught them about the importance of a community and the importance of using your talents in a way that goes beyond your technical responsibilities,” Van Trease said. “We were all blessed because many of us felt that without UMSL – without people like Dave – we would be less than we are today.”
But even if he can’t be convinced of a return to teaching, Ganz is pleased that students and faculty will be able to utilize the classroom named in his honor.
“I am immensely grateful to the donors for their thoughtfulness, their generosity and for their good wishes,” Ganz said. “I’ve just had so many nice things said over the years. Even if they hadn’t contributed a penny, having them say some of those nice things makes you feel very grateful and very appreciative. I am certainly humbled by the fact that the effort came out to be as successful as it was.”
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