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Donors establish endowed chair to promote research and innovation in business and engineering

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Media Contact: UT Arlington Media Relations, 817-272-2761

News Topics: business, engineering, innovation, research

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Through a gift from local couple Mike and Sunny Dolabi, The University of Texas at Arlington announced today the establishment of an endowed chair to promote research, innovation and development of best practices in the areas of business logistics, supply chain management, systems engineering and operations management. The Mike and Sunny Dolabi Endowed Chair will be used to recruit a renowned individual who will enhance multidisciplinary research efforts.

Mike and Sunny Dolabi, Vistasp Karbhari, Peter Crouch, Chandra Subramaniam

From lower left, Sunny and Mike Dolabi, and UTA President Vistasp Karbhari sign an agreement that will establish an endowed chair that business and engineering will share. Engineering Dean Peter Crouch, rear left, and Interim Business Dean Chandra Subramaniam look on at the signing.

The endowed chair was made possible by a gift from Sunny and Mike Dolabi, who studied electrical engineering at UTA and is now the president and owner of National Autobody Parts Warehouse. Since 1993, both have turned the Grand Prairie-based company into the largest independent aftermarket parts supplier in Texas with several satellite locations throughout the state. Dolabi’s leadership and knowledge of ISO quality management systems and NSF-ISR certification programs has helped him become a respected authority in the industry. He sits on the Board of Directors for the Automotive Body Parts Association, the leading professional organization for his industry.

“As local business owners, we are always looking for ways to enhance our business operations, and UTA’s continued excellence in both business and engineering make it an ideal place to combine fields that would have a far-reaching impact,” Dolabi said. “We are confident this chair holder will not only change the way we do business but will revolutionize how we look at industry.”

The couple first became involved with the University by hiring interns for their growing business and helping students gain experience by applying lessons they have learned in the classroom to real-world business situations.

“The quality of students at UTA first caught our attention,” Dolabi said. “Because the University attracted talented students and provided the resources they needed to succeed, we were eager to help them develop in the business world. We have been very pleased with my partnership with UTA.”

UTA’s Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions | Global Impact is intentionally focused on the practical applications of advanced principles in several key areas. Emphasizing a need to advance collaborative solutions in data-driven discovery, sustainable urban communities, global environmental impact, and health and the human conditions, the University has become a leader in building industry partnerships that drive innovation and impact economic development.

“UTA has a long history of collaboration with the corporate sector,” said UTA President Vistasp Karbhari. “We are grateful to Mike and Sunny for their generosity and look forward to recruiting another internationally renowned faculty member who will build upon our reputation as one of the largest producers of intellectual capital in the state and will continue our traditions of transformational excellence.”

The University is committed to leading academic research into the 21st Century. This new endowed chair creates a foundation for improved collaboration between industry and academia.

Chandra Subramaniam, interim dean of UTA’s College of Business, believes the Mike and Sunny Dolabi Endowed Chair will have a global benefit.

“All businesses, large and small are looking for ways to engineer their processes – whether it’s supply chain coordination, customer feedback, inventory management within the company or sales forecasting. This endowed chair will provide resources to conduct leading-edge research and institute real-world execution so that students and industry partners will benefit immensely,” Subramaniam said. 

Peter Crouch, dean of the College of Engineering, added, “Having an endowed chair focused on collaboration between business and engineering is crucial to helping complex businesses succeed, ultimately leading to improved gains and savings passed to the consumer. This chair will create even more opportunities for our students to learn from an expert in traditional areas like manufacturing and logistics and in potential new areas such as the automotive industry.”