Alumni and friends of the Max M. Fisher College of Business choose to make financial gifts for many reasons. Oftentimes, the decision to create a fund or make a donation is a way to give back and to recognize the wealth of opportunities Fisher alumni receive after earning their degrees.

For alumna Paula Bennett, who earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing from Fisher, her inspiration to give back was Dr. William Davidson, a beloved marketing professor and World War II veteran. Dr. Davidson earned his PhD from Ohio State and served on the faculty until 1972.

Paula Bennett
Paula Bennett

Bennett never forgot Dr. Davidson, because he was the one who inspired her to embark on a successful career path in marketing, which eventually led to her current position of president and CEO of J. Jill, a leading women's apparel company. In 2015, Bennett made a gift to the Max M. Fisher College of Business that established an endowed scholarship fund in Dr. Davidson’s memory.

"He ignited my passion for retail and introduced me to the importance of distinct brands," Bennett said. "He exemplified the importance of choosing work you love, continual learning, staying curious and valuing both the art and science of business."

Thanks to Bennett’s generosity, the fund has provided support to 15 students, including 12 in 2016, who have an interest in retail and multi-channel marketing. Bennett was inspired by Davidson, and now she’s inspiring the next generation of leaders—students like Maddie Sandhu.

Sandhu, a marketing major who received the William Davidson Undergraduate Scholarship in 2016, said the award helped her appreciate the field of retail-focused marketing, especially given that the scholarship was funded by someone of Bennett’s stature.

Maddie Sandhu

"Paula Bennett has successfully applied the knowledge that she gained from Fisher to become president and CEO, and that story in itself has motivated me in my studies," Sandhu said. "The scholarship has also assisted me in financing my studies in my last year at Ohio State before I enter the professional world, which will help kick start a successful career."

Sandhu completed an internship at the corporate offices of Designer Shoe Warehouse, a leading retailer of branded shoes and accessories based in Columbus, Ohio, during summer 2015. The internship was focused on digital marketing, and it allowed her to gain insights about what she wants to pursue in her professional career.

"After graduating from Fisher, I want to work on either the client side or agency side and work as a marketing analyst or as a digital marketer," Sandhu said. “I am interested in working for a fashion retailer but am also open to other industries."

Bennett maintains strong ties with Fisher and frequently returns to campus. In 2012, she earned Fisher's Pace Setter Executive Award in recognition of her career excellence and her impact on the lives of others. Prior to receipt of the award, one of Bennett’s staff members said: "Her defining characteristic is her extraordinary support and compassion for all of her employees. She has an open-door policy and is especially willing to meet with young employees to discuss their aspirations and career paths."

Bennett's commitment to giving back extends beyond her dedication to Fisher and its students. She is devoted to her own family and supports other families in her community through her company's commitment to charitable causes, including the J. Jill Compassion Fund, which was established to help poor and homeless women empower and change
their lives.