It is difficult to overstate the role that Washington University has played in Steven Segal’s life. He met and fell in love with his future wife, Ellen Binstock Segal, BSBA ’82, while he was a student at Olin Business School. Two of the Segals’ three children are WashU graduates, and the third currently attends as a member of the Arts & Sciences Class of 2019. Segal is the 2017–18 chair of the Alumni Board of Governors (ABG), serves on the Olin Business School National Council, co-chairs the Boston committee for Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University, and serves on the Boston Regional Cabinet. He was honored with an Olin Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013.
Now living in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, Segal is a special limited partner with J.W. Childs Associates, a Boston-based private equity firm he co-founded in 1995, and an executive-in-residence and lecturer for Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.
What was your first volunteer role for WashU?
My wife and I hosted a Washington University Summer Send-Off event in our home when our oldest was in high school. The event was coordinated by the Alumni and Parents Admission Program (APAP), and it gave new Boston-area students and their families an opportunity to meet each other before the start of the school year. It was fun — my wife and I enjoyed sharing our love of WashU with a new generation. I had other volunteer roles through the years, which eventually led to my work with the ABG as chair of the development committee. After joining the committee, I learned that I was the first person living outside St. Louis to serve as chair of Annual Giving. I was excited to help WashU reach that milestone, because I think it is important for the university to attract alumni volunteers from across the country.
What are some of your goals as the new chair of the Alumni Board of Governors?
We will continue to look for strategic ways to make all alumni networks more valuable for alumni and explore new ways to engage alumni immediately following graduation. We are also focused on helping today’s students recognize the importance of giving back to the university. Finally, we want to get more voices of recent alumni and current students into the ABG. Together as a group, the ABG tries to help the university become a better resource for alumni.
You made your first gift to the university the year after you graduated, and you have continued giving for 35 years. What inspired you, as a young alumnus, to make that first gift?
I guess I always understood that my relationship to the university wasn’t purely a transactional one. I started out making small gifts, and my gifts grew as my career progressed. I knew that Washington University was a great school because of the alumni who came before me, and I knew it continued to do well because of alumni generosity.
The good news is that the number of alumni who give back to the university keeps growing. It costs a lot for any university to attract and retain great educators and great students. The talented students who were my classmates were probably the biggest influence on my education. They helped me stay motivated, and they inspired me. Many of them were at the university because of scholarships made possible by alumni gifts.
What advice would you give to alumni who want to become more involved?
The level of engagement we all experienced during our years as students easily translates to volunteering for the university. Whether you join your Reunion committee or interview students for the APAP, there are plenty of ways to get involved without a huge time commitment. I have found it incredibly rewarding to remain connected to the institution that had such a strong impact on my life and career. As an added benefit, I get the chance to meet alumni from different class years and schools who are doing interesting and important work.
Laura Josehart is the associate director of development communications.