McNairs establish endowed fellowship in the College of Business

BillLanaMcNair_wnBill (’77) and Lana McNair recently made a generous pledge of $125,000 to establish the Bill and Lana McNair Endowed Fellowship in the Auburn Montgomery College of Business. To be eligible to receive consideration for the fellowship, a student must be admitted to Auburn Montgomery, accepted to a graduate program in the College of Business, and pursuing an advanced degree in a business field.

Bill McNair met with Dr. Rhea Ingram, Dean of the College of Business, in December 2013 to understand her vision for the newly designated College. Ingram discussed the opportunities for collaborative learning, the potential changes to the physical facility, and strengthening of the graduate programs. Ingram said endowments for graduate fellowships are a very important component of these plans because she is able to use these to recruit highly-qualified students.

"AUM’s College of Business graduate programs are ranked among the nation’s best," Ingram said. "However, financial support is an important factor in students’ decisions, if not the most important.  Gifts, like the McNairs’, will allow us to attract the best and brightest graduate students, which in turn raise the quality of our programs even more."

McNair credits both his Auburn degrees as great preparation for a successful and rewarding career.  Upon receiving his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Auburn in 1968, he began a career as an engineer with South Central Bell. During a 33-year career in the telecom industry, McNair served in a variety of leadership positions in engineering, operations and marketing. He retired from BellSouth as Vice President – Network Operations. Along the way, he earned an M.B.A. from Auburn University at Montgomery in 1977 and a master's degree in management through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan Fellows program in 1986.

McNair remains an active volunteer. He serves on the Auburn University Foundation Board, the Campaign Executive Committee, the College of Engineering Leadership Team, and the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council’s executive committee. He is a member of the 1856 Society and Engineering’s Keystone and Ginn societies. Also, he was instrumental in securing BellSouth’s generous funding of Auburn’s Minority Engineering Program, which has significantly helped to increase the success rate of minority students in engineering. In 2010, McNair was inducted into the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame.

Upon the birth of their first child, Lana McNair chose not to work outside the home. In their many intercity moves, she has always been active in church and community service work, and though not an Auburn graduate, she is an alumni association member and loyal supporter.

Bill and Lana now make their home in Point Clear, Ala., where they are active in civic and church work. They have a son and a daughter and six grandchildren.