Name: Mike Southard '82
Major: Double major in business management and accounting
Current Profession: National sales manager for the landscape lighting division of Kichler Lighting.
When it came time for Mike Southard to attend college, he looked at schools close to his hometown in Cleveland, but also all along the East Coast. He stopped by The University of Tampa while visiting a relative and fell in love with the campus. Now, 26 years later, UT has truly become a family affair.
What is your family history with the University?
I attended UT from 1978 to 1982, and that's where I met my wife, Amy, who attended from 1979 to 1981. Now, our daughter, Ashley, has chosen to follow in our footsteps and just completed her freshman year at The University of Tampa.
Did you and Amy have anything to do with Ashley attending UT?
Ashley was considering schools of between 6,000 and 10,000 students, so I urged her to visit the University. Though she was accepted at Butler, Purdue and other schools, she chose UT because it had the degree program she was interested in (international business). Interestingly enough, she has since changed her major to art therapy, and I understand The University of Tampa is one of only a handful of schools in the country that offer that major.
What does it mean to have your daughter at your alma mater?
It means so much to me to have Ashley at UT. Amy and I both have so many fond memories of UT, and we are very happy that we get to go back and visit campus on a regular basis. The campus is almost unrecognizable compared to when we were there in the early 1980s.
What were you involved in at UT?
I was a founding father of the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon and served as treasurer. I was also very active in and an officer of the international business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi and a member of the accounting club. When I wasn't planning or attending events for my fraternities, I could be found at the Rathskellar. In fact, my good friend John Lowth introduced me to Amy one night at the Rat.
Most memorable professor?
The small class sizes made it possible for me to really get to know many of my professors on a personal basis. My favorite professors were Mickey Perlow and Karen Squires. They were instrumental in my accounting education and, like most of my professors at UT, had real-world experience. Karen was a very good professor and became a mentor and friend.
I also landed my first job in finance thanks to Glen Runyon, who was working in Miami and teaching part time as an adjunct professor at UT.
Why do you support UT?
Amy and I support UT because we have been successful in our lives, and a big part of that success can be attributed to our education at UT. I believe it's very important to give back to the community, and for that reason, we not only support UT annually, but also have included UT in our estate plans.
I think it is important for all alumni to give back, especially if they had the type of experience that we had. The more each alumnus gives back, the better the University does, and, ultimately, this benefits everyone involved. For example, Ashley is now benefiting from past donations from generous alumni and local philanthropists. I hope our support will do the same for future students of the University.
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