Spartan alumni are an unwavering force in many ways, bringing about positive change in industry, inspiring and leading the future of business and giving back to support their alma mater.
For Brent Woodford (B.A. Accounting ’84), executive vice president, controllership, financial planning and tax at the Walt Disney Company, this means expanding opportunities for both faculty and students here at the Broad College.
“I got a lot of value from my time at Michigan State, especially from the accounting department,” Woodford said. “I attribute the success I have had in my career to what I learned and the experiences I had at MSU many years ago. In fact, I’d be happy to go back and do it all over again. But since I can’t, I’m hoping I can help the program continue to bring in the best students and faculty, attain higher rankings and build upon its already strong reputation.”
Woodford recently made an estate gift of $500,000 to establish the Woodford Family Faculty Fellowship, which will help attract and retain exceptional faculty across the Broad College.
“I know that attracting the right faculty is important to the success of any of the Broad College’s programs, and I’m hoping that’s what my gift can do,” he said. “Financial reporting has been a major part of my career and where I’ve been able to add value, so my goal is that this gift will often benefit the accounting faculty.”
Woodford says his time spent along the banks of the Red Cedar has been paramount to his success throughout his career.
“An education in accounting and finance provides the tools to make a significant contribution in business,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been able to have an impact on big decisions for the companies where I’ve worked through the things I learned at MSU, along with the various experiences I’ve had in my career.”
At Disney, Woodford said he’s been involved in many exciting things over the years because of his experience in business, accounting and finance. These include the acquisitions of Pixar and Marvel and the opening of theme parks around the world.
On the student side, Woodford also made a gift of $50,000 to match and expand upon a gift he made in 2019, establishing the Brent Woodford Endowed Scholarship in Accounting.
“I was an out-of-state student, and my family didn’t have the resources to pay for college. I was on work study for my four years at MSU,” Woodford explained, noting he worked at the cafeteria in Brody Hall, was an accounting teaching assistant and helped with administrative tasks in the Department of Accounting and Information Systems. “I want my gift to help more students afford their education at MSU.”
With this scholarship, Woodford hopes to help with some of the financial needs for future Spartans so that they can take advantage of all that MSU has to offer. He recalled that some of his own fondest memories involved extracurricular activities like winning a dorm softball championship during his first year, being active in accounting honor society Beta Alpha Psi and, of course, attending football and basketball games.
Beyond these recent gifts, Woodford has long supported his alma mater, giving $50,000 for an interview room in the Russell Palmer Career Management Center during construction of the Edward J. Minskoff Pavilion. He has also made gifts to support other areas of interest at MSU like natural sciences and athletics.
“If you have affinity for something at MSU, it doesn’t always require a lot of money to have an impact,” he said, encouraging fellow Spartans to support what they love. “You can help create a relationship and accomplish something bigger at MSU.”
Donors seeking more information on how to make a gift to the Broad College of Business can email firstname.lastname@example.org.