Sheri Faircloth is indebted to Don Panton for helping guide her toward a career in higher education—so much so that she created the Don B. Panton Endowed Scholarship in Finance at UT Arlington.
Dr. Faircloth, an associate professor of finance at the University of Nevada, Reno, earned a bachelor's degree in experimental psychology from UT Arlington in 1979. After spending almost 15 years in the transportation industry, she entered the University's M.B.A. program.
"I met professors Fred Forgey, Don Panton, Ron Rutherford and Peggy Swanson during my program of study," she said. "Even though all of these individuals had a great and positive influence on me during the M.B.A. education experience, it was Dr. Panton who gave me the courage to move forward."
Faircloth completed her M.B.A. in 1994. Before applying to the Ph.D. program, she asked several faculty members what they thought of the idea and whether her background was suitable.
"I will never forget Dr. Panton's statement: 'Sheri, you definitely have the horsepower.' I walked out of his office feeling as if I had won the lottery.
"This one statement changed my life, and I'll be forever thankful. I wanted to somehow thank Dr. Panton for being such a great human being and educator. Endowing a scholarship in his name was my 'thank you.' "
Panton, a professor of finance and real estate, joined the UT Arlington faculty in 1989, serving as the department's chair during a portion of his stay.
"Sheri's work showed great insight, effort and passion," he recalled. "Few students can bring all three of those ingredients to their work. She brought all three. Especially, Sheri brought passion. I believe that passion for one's chosen field is absolutely necessary for real success."
Faircloth tries to emulate her mentor.
"The greatest compliment I received while teaching at UTA was when a [poorly performing] student told me that I was just like Dr. Panton," she said. "He definitely influences the manner in which I conduct my classes and the respect I have for students."
Faircloth went on to earn her third degree from UT Arlington, a Ph.D., in 1997, then joined the faculty at Nevada, Reno.
Panton was touched by his former student's gesture. "It's a great honor," he said. "In a very real way, Sheri has contributed the rewards from a portion of her life to help another UT Arlington student succeed."
— Jim Patterson