GAYLORD A. JENTZ
Gaylord A. Jentz was born in Beloit, Wisconsin, on August 7, 1931, and died suddenly in Austin, Texas, on November 23, 2009. Professor Jentz grew up in Waupun, Wisconsin, where he graduated second in his high school class. He went on to be a scholarship tennis player at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. There, his education was interrupted so that he could serve in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict. Despite that interruption, Professor Jentz earned his B.A., M.B.A., and J.D. degrees at the University of Wisconsin.
Professor Jentz began his teaching career at the University of Oklahoma in 1958, where he taught business law in the business school. He moved to The University of Texas in 1965 and taught here until 1998 when he retired. The term “retired” must be used advisedly, because Professor Jentz continued until the day of his death to serve UT, the McCombs School of Business, and his discipline in a variety of capacities.
Professor Jentz was a wonderful classroom teacher who taught a wide variety of courses and also gave seminars in purchasing law and banking law all over the United States, often for free. His intellect was sharp. His preparation was faultless. His zeal was unmatched. He was a much-beloved teacher who earned awards such as the CBA Foundation Award for Excellence in Education, the Jack G. Taylor Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the Joe D. Beasley Teaching Excellence Award.
Professor Jentz was also a scholar. His articles were published in his profession’s premier journal, but his primary productivity was as an author of leading textbooks. Professor Jentz authored or co-authored approximately sixty editions of the best and most popular business law textbooks in the country. Through these textbooks, Professor’s Jentz placed his indelible stamp upon the business education of much of the nation.
Professor Jentz’s service contributions to his school, his university, and his profession are too many to list. He played a major role in turning the University’s business school into a modern research institution, serving as a close adviser to former deans George Kozmetzky and William Cunningham. As long-time chair of the general business department, which later became known as management science information systems (MSIS) and, finally, the information, risk, and operations management (IROM) department, he established some of the best groups in the country in quantitative fields such as statistics, management science, and information systems. Notably, he was mainly responsible for developing his own program in business law into what is widely regarded as one of the nation’s top programs of its kind. Not only was he able to attract leading scholars to UT, but his curriculum innovations have been emulated at scores of other institutions throughout the country.
Professor Jentz also served on virtually every important committee and governing body, at both the business school and University levels. At his funeral, former business school dean and University president William Cunningham eulogized Professor Jentz by affirming that whenever he had difficult issues to be resolved or important tasks to be undertaken, he called upon Professor Jentz.
Professor Jentz’s significant contributions to the UT business school gained him admission to its “Hall of Fame,” an honor bestowed upon few faculty members. Professor Jentz’s many administrative contributions to UT earned him the prestigious Civitatis Award for service. Indeed, he and Professor H. Paul Kelley were, in 1997, the very first recipients of this prize which is designed to recognize outstanding faculty citizenship.
Professor Jentz’s contributions to his profession are equally impressive. As Professor Dan Herron, executive secretary of the Academy of Legal Studies in Business (ALSB), pointed out in eulogizing Professor Jentz, he was a bridge between the traditions of the earlier American Business Law Association and its more recent incarnation as the ALSB. Over the years, Professor Jentz served in virtually every important position at the ALSB, including president. At virtually every annual meeting for many, many years Professor Jentz both served as host of the past presidents dinner and administered the oath of office after every annual election. He also served his discipline’s regional organizations. For example, he served as president of the Southern Business Law Association and the Southwestern Federation of Administrative Disciplines. He was editor-in-chief of his profession’s leading journal, the American Business Law Journal. It is little wonder, then, that in 1981 Professor Jentz received his discipline’s most prestigious award, the Faculty Award for Excellence.
Even more important, Professor Jentz was a mentor to literally scores of young professors across the nation. These included faculty members not only in the field of business law, but those in other disciplines as well. He was often the first person to greet and welcome business law professors into the Academy of Legal Studies in Business at the national convention. He was a sage presence whose wisdom and common sense were widely recognized. Few important decisions have been made over the past forty years in the ALSB without Professor Jentz’s input. It would have been simply imprudent to have made any significant decisions or taken any important actions without Professor Jentz’s advice and consent, as most ALSB officers have recognized. For example, many years ago when ALSB officers were considering sponsoring the first reception for gay and lesbian members, they consulted Professor Jentz on this potentially controversial decision. His common sense reaction was: “Of course we should welcome every business law professor into our fold. We should have done this already.”
Professor Jentz routinely offered advice and counsel to young faculty members throughout the business school on both specific issues, such as how to deal with the University bureaucracy, and on more general matters, such as how to advance in one’s career. On numerous occasions, he would make unsolicited offers to nominate a faculty member for an award or write a recommendation on his or her behalf.
Professor Jentz was simply one of the friendliest, most supportive, most generous people that anyone could ever meet. His devotion to the ALSB is illustrated by the fact that virtually every year he and his wife Joann spent their August wedding anniversary, even their fiftieth, at the annual convention. The friendships they made and cultivated at the annual conferences were legion. Mrs. Jentz herself is virtually a de facto ALSB member. Other business law professors came from as far away as Canada to attend Professor Jentz’s funeral here in Austin.
In 1977, in a letter of support for Professor Jentz’s nomination for one of the many teaching awards he won, his business law colleague, Professor John Allison, wrote: “I have known Gay Jentz for five years. I have never heard a single person say even one bad thing about Gay. And I wouldn’t believe them if they did.” That same statement could have been repeated in 1987, 1997, 2007, and on the day Professor Jentz died. He was universally beloved at The University of Texas, in the Austin community, and across the nation in his professional association.
Professor Jentz was a rabid UT sports fan. He and his wife were regulars at UT football, basketball, baseball, softball, and volleyball games. He served on the Intercollegiate Athletics Council for Men and established the Gaylord & Joann Jentz Athletics Scholarship as well as the Gaylord and Joann Jentz Endowed Presidential Scholarship to support academics.
The University of Texas has lost one of its giants. And, it goes without saying, an even greater loss has been visited upon Professor Jentz’s family and friends. He was a devoted husband to his wife Joann; a loving and supportive father to Kathy, Gary, Lori, and Rory; a doting grandfather to eight grandchildren; and a faithful and generous friend to countless people he met over the years, Professor Gaylord Jentz was a very special person. He was always warm and funny. His side-splitting Christmas letters will be missed by all. His kind does not often pass this way.
William Powers Jr., President
The University of Texas at Austin
Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty
This memorial resolution was prepared by a special committee consisting of Professors Robert Prentice (chair), Frank Cross, and Michael Granof.