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magazine home > archives > fall 2002 > features

An Exercise in Goodwill
by Benjamin Potter

Frank Flautt

Frank Flautt

"Put your money where your mouth is."

That advice is always easier said than done. But University of Memphis alumnus Frank Flautt, hotelier and president of Flautt, Inc., has given to his alma mater freely not only with his pocketbook, but also with his time, energy and expertise.

Flautt (BS '63), co-founder of Florida-based Sandcastle Resorts, is a frequent visitor to Memphis and the University. A steadfast booster of Tiger Clubs, this successful businessman has also donated countless hours on The U of M Board of Visitors as past secretary and as past Annual Fund chair.

Flautt's latest contribution, a personal $500,000 gift, has turned heads. For Flautt, giving is a natural "thank you." Once an employee of Holiday Inn, he says he owes much to the legacy of Kemmons Wilson.

"Quite frankly, there wasn't a hotel industry when he started," Flautt says. "The whole industry as we know it today was created by Kemmons."

Flautt has made the best of his business opportunities and industry know-how, but philanthropy is not a new concept for him. Aside from The U of M, he's lent a helping hand to Independent Presbyterian Church, the Church Health Center and the Evangelical Christian School in Memphis, along with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), an organization that helps abused and neglected children.

"I want to build more people up because I'm certainly fortunate to be in the position I'm in," Flautt says. Aligned to the philosophy that success requires hard work and a little luck, Flautt admits that "timing was everything in my career." But his effort is evident: When he worked for Holiday Inn in the 1960s, he estimates that it took 10,000 proposals to start 1,500 new hotels.

Fogelman College of Business and Economics Dean John Pepin has known Flautt since 1960 and has witnessed his work ethic for some time.

"Frank is a graduate who has worked diligently in the hotel industry," Dr. Pepin (BBA '62, MBA '64) says. "He's also given his ‘sweat equity' to this University for more than two years. As a result of his leadership, the Wilson School has received approximately $2.8 million in gifts and pledges."

Flautt, who also spearheaded a project that raised $2.5 million for the construction of the Athletic Office Building addition, says his fund-raising efforts for the Wilson School are not yet finished. The goal is to raise more than $3 million in order to endow the school's chair and set up student scholarships.

Meantime, Flautt hopes that Wilson School students can learn from "the ground up" and launch productive careers.

"Students who are properly trained will be able to function anywhere," he says. "If we train the person right about the basic skills, they can be successful no matter where they go."

With Flautt's commitment to the Wilson School, students' chances for success are greater than ever.

see also: Wilson School Checks In

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