from The Bridge: Spring/Summer 2011 issue
Wilfred M. (Buddy) Kullman Jr. dislikes looking back. "I prefer to keep moving forward. I like to keep my good memories. While I've always supported the University, I was just too busy to go back for a visit," says the senior vice president of wealth management at Smith Barney, in New Orleans. Finally, after 53 years, Kullman managed to return to W&L this spring--for the first time since his graduation. "I'm glad I allowed that much time to elapse before revisiting the school," he said. "I have a lot of happy memories of the time I spent in this area, but it seems it keeps changing for the better."
He was pleased to see that the Colonnade and Lee Chapel looked the same. "It was even better than I expected. I was surprised everything was so well preserved." Kullman has donated to both Wilson Hall and Hillel House, but generally he prefers to remain anonymous. "This time I allowed them to put my name on places in the school buildings. It was a strange feeling to see my name in the buildings. I'm still trying to get used to it," he notes. He was particularly struck by the restoration work ongoing in Payne Hall, part of the Colonnade project. "It was so impressive. The University has done an amazing job in maintaining the historic look while modernizing the campus."
Kullman was just as impressed with the students who are educated within those walls. "I'm glad I went when I did, because I'm not even sure I could get in now," he jokes. He visited several groups of students and sat in on Art Goldsmith's economics class, where he was surprised to find that women outnumbered the men three to one.
Besides the presence of women on campus, the only major change Kullman noted was that the requisite jacket and tie had gone by the wayside. "That is a big change," he says, "but the important things have remained the same: relationships, the Honor System and ethics. I'm happy that the Honor System remains a core value of the school."
He enjoyed meeting students from the Williams Investment Society. "We didn't have a society like that when I was there. The kids take their responsibility very seriously. They completely run the program. That's the business I'm in, managing money. It is good to see them get that kind of background before they graduate."
During his visit, Kullman also dined with Hillel students who spent their winter break on a service trip to New Orleans. And he revisited a farm near Collierstown where, as a student, he trained horses. He's still a horseman, riding every day.
Kullman was especially pleased to hear about the Roger Mudd Center for the Study of Professional Ethics. "That's what we are missing out in the business world. It is embarrassing for people like me who have made their livelihood--I've worked 53 years in this field--to see people entrusted with responsibility acting like it is play money, Monopoly money. You would think if they can accumulate wealth, they could find a better use for it." Toward this end, Kullman plans to continue his support of the University. "It is important to give back when we're lucky enough to make money."