The University of Arizona's Eller College of Management has announced an anonymous commitment that honors the memory of Dave Sitton, a UA and community leader who died Aug. 12. Jim Click, who leads one of the nation's largest automotive dealer groups, has matched the commitment.
The Dave Sitton Student Mentorship Grant will support mentorship in the top-ranked McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship.
"We believe that with the active guidance of our mentors, the graduates of the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program will launch successful careers, many of which will serve to strengthen our community and our region," said Len Jessup, dean of the Eller College. "We believe this would have special meaning to Dave."
"Literally hundreds of people have sent me letters, cards and emails telling me what Dave meant to them and how much he will be missed," said Sitton's sister, Margie. "Almost all referred to him specifically as their 'mentor' who had such a positive impact on their lives. His daughters and I can't think of a more fitting tribute to his memory than having this mentorship grant named for him."
Sitton had a 35-plus year relationship with the UA as a student, rugby coach, administrator, sports broadcaster, fundraiser and lecturer. He was a giant in the community, actively involved with numerous charities and civic organizations. He was most passionate about his role as a mentor to young people, and believed that character was the cornerstone of achievement in business and in life.
"He dedicated his entire life to helping young people," Margie Sitton said. "He approached everything that he did, whether working on the rugby program, his various business endeavors, radio show or teaching from an entrepreneurial perspective. That is why this tribute is such a perfect match and we are thrilled."
"This is a wonderful tribute to Dave Sitton and I am thrilled to be among those who are getting involved," Click said. "I don't know anyone who loved Tucson, the University, the state and our country as much as Dave Sitton, and his belief that character was the foundation of success is inspiring to us all. The McGuire Center at the Eller College is the perfect partner to continue Dave's legacy for future generations. ...I am proud to honor my good friend in this special way."
The McGuire Entrepreneurship Program serves close to 100 students each year. The students form teams around new venture concepts, and each team receives personal mentoring from an assigned mentor-in-residence, experienced entrepreneurs who also have roots in the regional investment community. The Dave Sitton Student Mentorship Grant will support the mentor-in-residence program.
Björgvin Benediktsson, a graduate of the McGuire program, describes the mentor-in-residence relationship as "the most important component of the McGuire Center's program." His teammate, Alex Bieberstein, agreed: “Every week, Mr. (Emre) Toker challenges our assumptions, offers various viewpoints, evaluates our pitches and provides us with invaluable guidance, all of which helps us to improve our venture and play to our team members' strengths."
"Our mentors help make the McGuire experience what it is today," said Bob Lusch, executive director of the top-ranked McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship. "We hope too that this grant will inspire others to help build his legacy."