Bruce Braden (MBA 73) cannot explain how he got himself into a position to make a $2 million commitment to support GGU’s School of Taxation, soon to be renamed the Bruce F. Braden School of Taxation.
“If I knew that, I’d probably write a book about it,” Braden said over the phone from an idyllic fishing and golf trip to Sun Valley. “The only thing I could say is that I was lucky. I was going to go work for the phone company after I came out of the Army. But the phone company was on strike, so I ended up going to Golden Gate.”
Braden had gone into the Army after he graduated from Stanford in the ’60s. Ma Bell’s strike put him to work on a GGU MBA with a concentration in taxation. He then started his career with Touche Ross, where one of his supervisors was a man by the name of Ted Mitchell. (Hold that thought for a moment.)
Braden ascended to partnerships at two other firms before he discovered oil and became a founder and major contributor to four successful companies in the industry (including his current Braden Exploration, in Fort Worth, Texas) — and one wildly successful company.
“It was not planned,” Braden said. “I made a decent amount in the oil and gas business, but I got into it because I really enjoyed it. It’s a combination of science and gambling.”
Braden managed all of his businesses, he said, for the long haul — making decisions as if he would own them for 20 years. That one wild success — Stroud Energy, which he started in 1998 — was no different, except for its results.
“All of my businesses have been successful,” Braden said, without a touch of boastfulness. “But that one, it was far beyond any of the others — a 50-fold return.”
By the time he sold Stroud Energy in 2006, Braden had lost touch with GGU. He had taught for three years before he got into oil and gas, and then 25 years passed before his former supervisor wondered if he wouldn’t like to reconnect with the university.
That would be one Ted Mitchell, by now a member of GGU’s board of trustees, and Braden soon began writing a generous check.
“When I thought about it,” Braden said, “where would I be without Golden Gate? Maybe still working at the phone company.”
Given in recognition of outstanding leadership and service contributions to the community.
Prince George’s County (Md.) Councilwoman Ingrid M. Turner (MBA 89) already has a houseful of honors.
Her accolade-fest started with her career in the Navy, with medals for Achievement, Commendation and Meritorious Service. More recently, the Prince George’s Community Foundation bestowed its 2009 Civic Leadership Award on her, Emily’s Way handed over a Service Award in 2010 for Giving of Self for the Advancement of Others, and the Women Business Owners of Prince George’s County in 2011 gave her its Leadership by Example Award. In 2011 she was listed among the Washingtonian magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women.
Yet, news that Golden Gate University was honoring her for community service brightened the sparkle in her eyes.
“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Turner said. “It’s like 25 years later, they followed me, they caught up with me and it’s as if I have made the university that provided my foundation proud of what I have accomplished. And that foundation, education, is one that opens doors and provides opportunities.”
The daughter of an Army officer and sister of three brothers who went to West Point, she was the wayward sheep who went to the Naval Academy. “I’m the only smart one,” she said, laughing. “I got all the good duty stations.”
Her first Naval duty station was Monterey, where she soon gravitated to GGU’s satellite for her MBA. Her next duty station allowed her to earn a Juris Doctorate from Catholic University, which led to her first duty station as a lawyer: Treasure Island.
“I was able to serve my country for 20 years on active duty,” Turner said. “When I came back to where I grew up, I wanted to put that knowledge to work helping my community. I believe youth are our future, so I have focused on education.” That said, it’s easy for Turner to single out two recent, profoundly satisfying accomplishments.
One: the opening this fall of a new, $56 million Greenbelt Middle School, replacing an appalling environment she described as “third world” after she took office in December 2006.
And: At last, a library in the Pointer Ridge section of Bowie, the town where she grew up and still lives.
“What’s my passion? Education, yes, but also, how can I give my community the tools to succeed?” she said. “My building blocks were like the ones I received from GGU — the tools I needed to succeed.”
Distinguished GGU Service
Given to a GGU faculty or staff member in recognition of exemplary leadership and service.
Susan Rutberg (JD 75) used her law degree to defend the indigent and represent the public interest. Then she began teaching at GGU, and did more of the same. Exponentially more, she figures.
“As a lawyer I got great satisfaction, because I felt I was doing something that mattered,” she said. “But teaching law students has had a much wider ripple effect.”
Rutberg’s father, Jerry, had big things in mind for his only daughter: becoming the first Jewish woman president of the United States. She had big things in mind, too — just different big things. Raised in upstate New York, she graduated from Cornell in 1971 and then joined her friends in San Francisco for the late flower-child era.
“It was an exciting place to be in law school,” she said. “It was a very welcoming culture, and, with the teachers just a few years older than we were, a very collaborative environment.”
Rutberg put in 15 intense years as a trial lawyer, mostly as a public defender, and then moved into the 1st District Appellate Project. Then she accepted an invitation from Bernie Segal (the late GGU professor and criminal defense attorney) to return to GGU to teach in 1988.
“When I started doing appellate, I started reading all of these trial transcripts, and I realized how many lawyers were not well prepared,” she said. “I thought, this would be a good time to start teaching law school, to better prepare lawyers, rather than try to make up for their mistakes in appeals.”
So in 1991 she took on full-time teaching. She supervised GGU’s legal externship programs, originating the homeless advocacy and capital post-conviction clinics, both in partnership with community agencies.
She made a point of bringing in real clients for the Lawyering Skills class she taught, and watched with pleasure as students interviewed a young man from the Homeless Advocacy Program and took on his case. “Their energy level went way up,” she said. “They cared.”
In 2001, Rutberg started the Innocence Project in partnership with Santa Clara University’s law school, and in 2005 the team used DNA testing to exonerate Peter J. Rose, who had served nearly 10 years of a 27-year prison sentence.
Rutberg is on sabbatical this fall, but she’s got a public interest pursuit already: mentoring in the girls unit at Juvenile Hall.
Volunteer of the Year
Given to a person who demonstrates exceptional service to the university through volunteer activities.
John Williamson (MS 90), the Partner-in-Charge of EisnerAmper LLP’s San Francisco office, receives fairly predictable gratification for the pro-bono program he originated with Dean Mary Canning and the Braden School of Taxation.
It happens at the height of tax season. The phone rings and a former student, who might otherwise be overwhelmed by clients, forms, receipts and The Code, says thanks.
“They’ll call us and say, ‘It was great that I had that experience,’” Williamson said. “That feedback makes it so satisfying. The students love the practical experience and the way it helps them get through their first tax season with future employers.”
Williamson, who received his BS in accounting from Illinois College, went to work for Big 8 CPA firm KPMG as an auditor but fell in love with San Francisco on a vacation. In 1982, he moved west and soon went to work for the CPA firm of Harb, Levy & Weiland LLP. Once there, Howard Weiland suggested he enroll in GGU’s master of taxation program.
“The one rule was: No classes during tax season,” said Williamson, thus explaining his slow and steady pace to his degree.
Williamson found the program so instrumental in his success, and the faculty so professionally grounded, that he worked with Canning to institute a free student tax workshop that consumes five to six hours on three consecutive Fridays.
“The idea was to show GGU’s master’s in tax students how to prepare individual, partnership and corporate tax returns,” he said. “The first day, we give a half-hour lecture and a quick tutorial on the tax software, and then each student receives a packet of the information we typically get from a client. They essentially learn the whole thing from A to Z.”
Williamson doesn’t have to go looking for things to occupy his time. He serves on the EisnerAmper Executive Committee, the Executive Committee of Hedge Funds Care (established for the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect) and the board and Audit Committee of Freight & Salvage Coffee House, a music venue in Berkeley. (Yes, he does catch the occasional show at Freight & Salvage.)
“I love doing what I’m doing; I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Williamson said. “We all like to give back to the community, and this tax program especially gives us a chance to give back specifically to GGU.”
Given to a recent graduate who exhibits extraordinary professional achievements and contributions to the community.
Truth be told, if Glen Schofield (MBA 02) had known the video games he was designing would eventually gross more than $3 billion, maybe he wouldn’t have gone back to school at GGU to supplement the bachelor of fine arts degree he had received from Pratt Institute.
“The video game business in 1990 was a small industry,” Schofield said. “I moved to Crystal Dynamics in 1996 and it wasn’t long before they were talking about me running the place. I figured I’d need an MBA. When video games grew from a cottage industry to a very big business, the education and degree really helped me.”
Schofield got a boost from Electronic Arts when he moved to the Redwood City gaming giant before he had completed that MBA. “They were very supportive and encouraged me to finish it,” Schofield said.
While there, his game, Dead Space, won Best Action Game from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences in 2009. “Then I went to Activision, where my business partner and I built a studio, Sledgehammer Games, from scratch,” Schofield said. “Next up was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 — and within three years we made the biggest game of them all.”
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, co-directed by Schofield, set all sorts of entertainment records by grossing more than $1 billion in only 16 days; it also won “Best Action Game” for 2011, and Schofield today is CEO of Sledgehammer Games, the Activision Blizzard studio he co-founded in Foster City in 2009.
“Golden Gate got us used to speaking in front of people, constantly practicing and giving reports and critiquing, and now that’s what I do — talk to the press, appear on TV,” Schofield said. “And I’m comfortable with that.
“The other thing: I went from running art teams to running a business that makes $200 to $300 million or more. Our last game made more than $1.5 billion. So budgets, scheduling and all of the business education really helped me. Having both creative and business degrees in the video game industry is the perfect match.”
With success, Schofield is now able to concentrate on his first love, art. He’s returning to the creative side of the business. But, he said, “I am still the CEO and, with my business partner, make the big decisions. It’s good to know that nobody can pull the wool over my eyes.”
Schofield’s work appears at www.ArtBySchofield.com and www.Sledgehammergames.com.
By Susan Fornoff