Friendships and Faith in Leadership Drive Inspiration for Giving Back
Forty-four years ago, Jack Thompson (’84 Busi. Admin.) met Molly Katica (’79 Accounting) in a WSU statistics class in the Carson College of Business. The WSU quarterback, nicknamed “the Throwin’ Samoan,” and the athletic, hard-working accounting major hit it off and became partners for life. After Jack’s retirement from the NFL, the couple settled in Seattle and together began supporting WSU and Carson College initiatives, including The Next Carson Coug.
As alumni, what are your motivations to support programs and stay engaged with WSU and the Carson College of Business?
We have a vested interest in supporting WSU because of our tie to WSU Athletics and the wonderful friendships we have across the Coug network. We are motivated to support the Carson College because of our appreciation of the great leadership we’ve observed. Nancy Swanger’s vision and mentorship not only led to the betterment of WSU hospitality programs but also to the senior living industry that hires highly skilled WSU business graduates. Dean Chip Hunter is leading the college in developing academic programs that will set the college apart from competitive markets. We are behind Chip all the way in his vision to position the college as the best business school in the Pacific Northwest.
What inspires you about the college’s Next Carson Coug (TNCC) undergraduate initiative?
Knowing that the college is pumping out students who will be prepared with skills employers want is inspiring. We’ve always admired the social skills of hospitality graduates and thought they should be taught across the entire business program along with technical skills—TNCC is doing that. TNCC is a pipeline to CougsFirst! (a business network Jack and five other WSU alumni founded to encourage WSU alumni and friends to utilize Cougar owned and managed businesses) and other businesses looking to hire Cougs. And activities are built into the curriculum so students who are more introverted learn how to network and work on teams.
How does TNCC help the college achieve the goal of becoming the business school of choice in the Pacific Northwest?
The skills of TNCC graduates will set them apart. The participation of successful WSU graduates willing to give back will be critical to help the college reach the goal of becoming the first choice for business education in the Pacific Northwest. There are so many people who love being back on campus—the WSU alumni base would love to be asked to become mentors. During a CougsFirst! board meeting, nine people jumped at the chance to get involved when introduced to TNCC. Once people learn more about TNCC and their mentees, the program is only going to grow.
What advice would you give to other Cougs and alumni who are thinking about supporting TNCC?
There are a lot of different ways you can give as alumni. Being a mentor is a powerful way to give back. We all love our own special WSU experiences and love to see WSU win, whether that be through athletics or academics. Supporting TNCC is how we can make that happen.
What are your best memories about your engagement with the Carson College?
One of the biggest takeaways is the friendships we’ve made over the years, the core originating from the Carson College, especially the hospitality program. We need people like Chris Marker and Jerry Jaeger, great hospitality graduates who were both smart in business and socially, to come back and consider mentoring TNCC students. We both had great educations and good experiences with professors. More recently, events like the hospitality school’s Hall of Fame banquet show us amazing, poised TNCC students in action.
What do you value most about your business degrees?
I (Molly) studied accounting and was able to get a job right out of college, and my business training helped me start my own company later. For me (Jack), besides my business skills, it’s the key friendships I’ve made throughout the years. My ability to network and build lasting relationships has helped me grow my businesses. I’m a proud graduate of the Carson College of Business, and it’s an honor to know Scott and Linda Carson. They’ve done so much for WSU.
What does WSU mean to you?
WSU means everything to me (Jack). We were so fortunate to have the professors we had. My accounting professor, Jan McEldowney, tutored me at her home during my senior year when I was missing school for NFL scouting. Only in Pullman would this happen! I (Molly) visited a best friend in Pullman and realized this was the college experience I wanted. I transferred to WSU as a junior, and I’m just so happy I did. WSU truly feels like home to Jack and me. In addition to the great education we received, we came away with lifelong friends who are exceptional people who also love WSU as much as we do!