s a friend of UT Arlington President Emeritus Wendell Nedderman and his wife for almost 30 years, Mary Ann Van Siclen had a fondness for the University long before she received her M.B.A. there in 1985.
“We lived just a few houses down from the Neddermans when they occupied the president’s house,” she said. “In fact, Betty and I were walking buddies.”
It was just as Van Siclen’s two daughters were entering high school that she decided to return to college. Given her familiarity with UT Arlington, the choice was clear.
“I had a lot of encouragement to go back, not just from Wendell and Betty, but also from my husband, Bob,” she said.
The graduate degree wasn’t the only education she received at UT Arlington.
“My eyes were definitely opened to the needs and sacrifices students would make in order to get their education,” said Van Siclen, recalling one of her classmates from India. “He had his entire family with him, and they had no beds to sleep on. So Bob and I gave him some extra mattresses we had.”
It was that kind of education on diversity that Van Siclen says helped her land a job as the small business administrator for Lockheed.
Immediately after graduation, however, she heard that the College of Business Administration needed a representative for the Alumni Association Board of Directors. She joined and has spent the last 20 years involved in activities, from doing volunteer work to serving as president.
This year Van Siclen will emcee the Distinguished Alumni Gala, an event she helped transform.
“The Alumni Association honored only two or three people each year,” she said. “When I was on the selection committee, I found it extremely difficult to determine if an engineer was better than a particular nurse or a social worker.
“That was a maturation point for the Alumni Association, especially in terms of getting people interested in attending this function and being part of it to honor these individuals.”
It was through the Alumni Association that she and her husband established the Van Siclen Family Scholarship, an endowment for juniors and seniors of any academic major who have a leadership role on campus.
They are creating another endowment with the Development Office that will alternate between nursing and engineering. Called the Van Siclen-Davis Family Scholarship, it is being established in memory of the couple’s parents.
Mary Ann retired from Lockheed in 2003. As a life and Circle of Pride member of the Alumni Association, she says her proudest UT Arlington moments include having her daughters and husband watch her graduate and receiving the Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 2006.
“That is really something I will always treasure,” she said. “I just love it when people appreciate UT Arlington for the contribution it makes to so many lives.”
— Susan M. Slupecki
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