"I think everyone in life has to try to find where to make a difference," says UCLA Anderson professor William M. Cockrum. "Accumulating funds is fine, but a portion of what you generate economically, as well as your experience, should be given back to improve the world, somewhere."
For Cockrum, UCLA is that somewhere - he gives his entire salary back to Anderson. "People who get the benefit of a good education have an obligation to make sure that educational opportunity is available to others who follow," says Cockrum.
"Professor Cockrum has inspired so many students through his commitment to Anderson," says Wendy Spinner, '89, who served as president of the Entrepreneur Association while at Anderson and is currently president-elect of the UCLA Anderson Alumni Network Board of Directors. "He not only gives financially, he gives in action and in deeds. And, that's really inspired people and taught them how important it is to give back.
Cockrum received his MBA in finance and marketing from Harvard University at 23 and spent more than 25 years in financial services. He eventually became a top executive at Becker Paribas, an investment banking firm that was sold to Merrill Lynch in 1984. Shortly after, he began working as a consultant to various CEOs, and then was approached to teach a course at Anderson.
"I thought it'd be a great opportunity for me to see if I could be any good in the classroom," recalls Cockrum. That was more than 30 years ago, and, today, Cockrum is a legend at UCLA Anderson. He created the Entrepreneurial Finance as well as Ethics and Leadership courses, and the Student Investment Fund, sharing his expertise with more than 7,000 students and counting. He was even named as the top entrepreneurial professor in the nation by BusinessWeek in 1996.
"Watching students blossom and excel in the real world have been the best rewards."
Watching students blossom and excel in the real world have been the best rewards for Cockrum. "Every other day, an alum calls or emails me about something new, and I really enjoy that interaction," he says. He also enjoys talking to his students - current and past - about the impact they can make as Anderson embarks on its self-supporting journey.
In addition to his generous giving, he is a member of the UCLA Anderson faculty, Board of Visitors, Advisory Board of the Price Center, faculty advisor to the school's alumni board, and a Governor of the UCLA Foundation. He also dedicates his time to the Affiliates service organization and to attending Anderson reunions.
"As one of the top 10 universities in the world, our graduates' UCLA degree will be recognized anywhere they go. Whether it's a small or a large gift, we can all make a difference in making sure that others have the same opportunity to meet people in this school's great culture, as well as to learn."