MBJ: FedEx’s Alan Graf ready to take on the U of M
FedEx Corp. CFO Alan Graf isn’t afraid of a little hard work.
Graf is one of eight appointees recently identified by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam to lead the University of Memphis’ new independent governing board.
Graf expects the new board will have a large time commitment and a bit of a learning curve. This will be the first time in the history of the university that it will be governed independently from the statewide Tennessee Board of Regents system. But Graf is up for the challenge.
As a past board chairman of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and a board member of both Nike Inc. and MAA— in addition to his role at FedEx — Graf is well-versed in governance.
“We’re not afraid of the workload, that’s for sure,” Graf said. “We’re going to attack this and do everything we can to make David Rudd the best president in the university’s history, by helping him with his mission and his vision.”
Though an Indiana grad, Graf has been involved with the university for some time due to FedEx Corp.’s (NYSE: FDX) partnership with the school. The relationship has led to naming rights for arenas, stadiums and a state-of-the-art technology institute and startup incubator.
He has been a well-known advocate of the university and Tiger Athletics, having served as president of the Tiger Athletics Advisory Board during the $10 million “Vision For Victory” capital campaign, at which time alumni Bill and Nancy Laurie contributed $10 million for athletics facilities on U of M’s South Campus — the single largest philanthropic gift in the history of the athletic department.
Graf also had a hand in selecting the university’s past few football coaches and served on the committee to find a permanent replacement for president Shirley Raines after Brad Martin, former chairman and CEO of Saks Inc., served a one-year interim in 2013.
“It’s extremely important for FedEx to have a great university,” said FedEx Corp. CFO Alan Graf. “It is improving dramatically, and that’s why I was interested when the governor called me.”
As for the other board members, Graf has previously served with many of them in other capacities and considers them to be strong leaders who are experienced and knowledgeable in their respective fields.
“I know most of them personally … and I’m really looking forward to working with this great group of people,” Graf said.