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Tattersall delivers Spring 2011 Commencement address

The man who made the largest single donation ever to the WVU College of Business and Economics (B&E) has given another valuable gift — himself.

Fred T. Tattersall, a renowned investment expert and prominent Richmond, Virginia, businessman who presented a gift of $3 million to the WVU business school in November, spoke to nearly 400 graduates at B&E Spring Commencement exercises on May 14 at the WVU Coliseum.

The 1970 B&E alumnus and chairman of Richmond-based 1607 Capital Partners in Richmond told those earning undergraduate and graduate degrees that he wanted to discuss something with them that would have a direct impact on them — life's lessons in coping with challenges ahead.

"The world is a tough competitor and I believe is growing in its challenges," said Tattersall. "The eight life lessons I will discuss will help you to cope with those challenges a little bit better."

His gift last fall was not only the largest ever to the College of Business and Economics, but was also the largest single donation for an endowed faculty chair position in West Virginia University history.

"The WVU College of Business and Economics is extremely fortunate to be associated with Fred Tattersall," said Dr. Jose V. Sartarelli, Milan Puskar Dean. "He is a philanthropist, he is a past and present business owner, and he is a fantastic example for our graduates. He is giving of himself in many ways, none the least of which was an address at commencement where graduates took away a piece of him and can carry it with them throughout their lives."

Those eight life lessons Tattersall described are as follows:

1. Find something you love doing – "This will allow you to look forward to work every day and be passionate about what you do."

2. Set high goals – "Challenge yourself every day. Every company, every university has a three- to five-year strategic plan. You should as well – review it regularly."

3. Seek out mentors in your field and grow your network – "The bigger your network, the better. I always sought the best in my field from whom to learn, why they think the way they do, also, what worked for them and what did not work. Look for qualities in people you can emulate."

4. Be a learning machine – "Be hooked for a lifetime on learning. Try learning from everyone. Have passionate curiosity! Be infectious to those around you! Very few things are static. Most occupations are evolving and growing."

5. Persistence helps – "You will be knocked down in life (trials) but trust previous lessons learned. Failures can be good for teaching us. How you deal with adversity is about attitude."

6. Learn to communicate – "Public speaking and good writing skills are a necessity in business. Take advantage to sign up for these types of courses in your workplace. For me, learning to be concise and getting to the point was a key in communication with my clients."

7. Always be honest – "Do the right thing when in doubt. Do the right thing when no one is looking. If you lie you will have to have perfect memory. You will find out your good name is a very important asset. Character and integrity matter and if you share your talents and your wealth I believe, over time, you will build a good name by creating a seamless web of deserved trust."

8. Seize the opportunities – "Live life to the fullest because we don't know when it may be taken away. I heard Steve Jobs, CEO and founder of Apple, say that he lives each day as though it could be his last. Don't look back on your life with regret for not having enjoyed the moment."

He concluded, "You have all taken a big step today by graduating from a terrific institute of higher learning. I know you all have the IQ, the energy and the initiative to succeed. I wish you the best in whatever you choose to do in the future. Enjoy the ride!"

The details of his gift in November are evidence that Tattersall is determined to make an impact at his alma mater and on students. The gift will be used to endow a faculty chair in the Finance Department of the College of Business and Economics. Tattersall said the gift will immediately affect business finance students and provide an avenue to give back by funding high quality faculty.

Established in 2007, 1607 Capital Partners manages products in the international and domestic equity area as well as the fixed-income sector. The firm is 100% employee owned and operated, and manages separate accounts for large institutional clients as well as a limited number of high net worth individuals.

Previously, Tattersall worked as a senior vice president in the Fixed Income Division of what today is the Bank of America. He continued his career in investment management and in 1997 created the Tattersall Advisory Group, which manages more than $52 billion for institutional accounts. After retiring from that business in 2004, he later became chairman of 1607 Capital Partners.

Tattersall currently serves on the WVU Foundation Board of Directors; the executive committee of the University of Richmond board; the Spider Management Company committee, which oversees the University of Richmond's endowment fund; the Virginia Museum Board of Trustees and the Hollywood Cemetery Board of Directors. He served as the past chair of The Community Foundation serving Richmond and central Virginia. In addition, he recently ended 20 years of service to the Jenkins Foundation.