Named for the father of Ralph Owen, the scholarship furthers Vanderbilt Business’ commitment to veterans’ management education

by Lily Kane

Even as the Owen community celebrates the school’s 50th anniversary, the family whose commitment provided foundational support for the School of Management continues to make an impact. A recently realized $1.75 million bequest from the estate of Mary Jane, BA’66, MA’69, and Charles Robb Swaney—nephew of the school’s namesake benefactors Lulu and Ralph “Peck” Owen, ’28—will provide scholarship support for Owen students in perpetuity. The gift establishes the Richard Carter Owen Scholarship, named for Mr. Swaney’s grandfather, father of Ralph Owen.

With a preference for military veterans, the Richard Carter Owen scholars will receive financial support for two years as they pursue an MBA. This new scholarship, along with the Bass Military Scholars program and the Taylor Force Scholarship for graduates of the U.S. military academies, helps make Owen a premier destination for veterans’ management education.

“For many years, we have enthusiastically recruited veterans and active members of the United States Armed Forces to Owen because of their remarkable leadership and maturity,” said M. Eric Johnson, Ralph Owen Dean and Bruce D. Henderson Professor of Strategy at Owen. “This gift helps us expand our capacity to meet veterans’ needs, while leveraging their unique perspectives and worldview, which significantly enhances our learning community.”

The Owen family tree has deep roots in Middle Tennessee, where they have been involved in business and agriculture since the early 1800s. Neither Dick Owen, Richard Carter Owen Jr.’s son, nor Carter Franklin, his cousin and current CEO of the family’s company, knew in advance that the gift was left in Owen’s name and were touched by the gesture. Franklin said, “The Owen family has always participated in the business world, and this gift will allow those who otherwise might not be able to attend Owen to obtain a first-class education and hopefully go on to enjoy the fruits of a successful career.” The special consideration for veterans, Franklin adds, recognizes several generations of military service in their family, as well as on the late Mrs. Swaney’s side.

Robb Swaney

The Swaneys met in Georgia, where he studied architecture and, in the 1950s, was briefly the youngest registered architect in the state. In addition to his family ties to Owen, the Swaneys also developed strong ties to Mary Jane’s alma mater, Peabody College of Education and Human Development. During their lifetimes, the Swaneys supported Peabody with their engagement, expertise and philanthropy. Mr. Swaney, who went by Robb, lent his skills as an architect to the design and construction of a toddler playground at the Susan Gray School.

As the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center shared in a memorial following Mary Jane’s passing, she was a warm and constant presence in, and benefactor of, the Center’s arts program, which provides workshops to encourage artistic expression in people with developmental disabilities. In addition to their endowed scholarship at Owen, the Swaneys’ planned giving also supports arts workshops through a collaboration between the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation.

For more information, please contact Erik Kahill, associate dean of development and alumni relations for Owen, at (615) 343-4072 or erik.d.kahill@vanderbilt.edu.