by Colton Campbell

A man who has given so much to the University of West Georgia – including 19 years of service as its president – has given even more.

Dr. Beheruz N. SethnaDr. Beheruz N. Sethna, who served as UWG’s president from 1994 until 2013, has made a planned gift of $100,000 to the university. The funds will move the Beheruz N. Sethna Dean’s Distinguished Scholar program toward the endowment level to be renamed the Beheruz N. Sethna Endowed Professor.

“I try to live my life by the maxim of planting trees under whose shade I will never sit,” said Sethna, who remains on the faculty in the Richards College of Business. “I was fortunate enough to be a part of leading this excellent institution for almost two decades while enjoying some of the fruits of our labor, but my intent has always been to create something that will last far beyond my own lifetime.”

The charitable gift was first established in 2013, when Sethna retired from his post as UWG president, by anonymous donors who made the Dean’s Distinguished Scholar program possible. Now, thanks to Sethna’s planned gift, that program will fund a salary supplement and research-related expenses for a Richards College of Business professor.

Sethna, who teaches in the Department of Marketing and Real Estate, said he hopes the Sethna Endowed Professor will be someone who embodies the spirit of both teaching and scholarship, adding that he believes in the value of research as an enhancement to “good teaching.”

“I believe strongly in the value of teaching, and my passion has long been undergraduate research guided by a trusted faculty member,” Sethna said. “I trust the person who will hold this professorship will share my philosophy of the student coming first – a philosophy that’s been my guiding principle for all 43 years of my teaching career.”

As he puts it, undergraduate research is Sethna’s “thing,” saying the act of someone seeking a bachelor’s degree completing credible research in his or her chosen field can open a high number of doors.

“They realize that to say something new, they have to create the ‘wow,’” he said. “These students must use the concepts and data they’ve learned and merge that information with reality. That makes them more engaged for the rest of their educational careers and beyond because they see how the concepts they’re learning in a lecture hall play out in the real world.”

Committing the gift has given Sethna the chance to reflect on his UWG career.

“Since I came to the University of West Georgia in 1994, I’ve seen an unbelievable amount of change, thanks to the hard work and tenacity of my colleagues here,” he said. “From the high amount of new and renovated buildings to the growth of our enrollment over the past 25 years, I’ve had a front-row seat to some truly incredible work.”

As for how the gift will affect Sethna’s legacy at UWG, he said he hopes he’s made a larger contribution to the transformation of countless students’ lives.

“Higher education for our students – those who are first-generation and those who aren’t – changes the trajectory of their lives, and that’s awesomely satisfying to me,” Sethna said. “The generational effect on those students and their children cannot be overstated, and our society as a whole benefits from more people having higher education. If I can be one small part of that, all of the time and effort I’ve put in will be more than worth it.”

Photography by Steven Broome

Posted on September 11, 2019