On Oct. 20, Clay Warrington, BSP ’58, was recognized as Volunteer of the Year by the School of Pharmacy at the 2005 Founders Week Gala for his extraordinary commitment to the University of Maryland, Baltimore as a volunteer, advocate, and philanthropist.
How does one achieve this honor?
If you were to ask Clay Warrington, he would say that his philosophy for giving his time, talents, and treasure stems from personal and professional experiences throughout his life.
Warrington served as a commissioned naval air officer after graduation in 1958. One of the earliest exposures to philanthropy he recalls was from the skipper of his squadron commenting about the Navy Relief Fund, a charitable arm providing support for families in need in the naval community. The skipper felt that since the Navy had given so much to him and his family over the years, he wanted to give back something above and beyond his service time.
Because his skipper’s actions left a lasting mark on his feelings about volunteering and making a difference in people’s lives, Warrington eventually became a supporter of the Navy Relief Fund. “That example really impressed me. He encouraged others to give through verbalization and demonstration, backing up his personal beliefs with actions,” says Warrington. “I learned that if you believe in something, you need to act on it to make a difference.”
Following his time in the Navy, Warrington embraced the-road-less-traveled by leaving the pharmacy profession to pursue medical sales, and then a career in marketing and advertising. After 34 years of dedication and drive, Warrington retired from his position as chairman of Dugan/Farley Communications, a unit of Bozell Wellness Worldwide, a former division of the Interpublic Group of Companies, a large New York Stock Exchange holding company.
The common thread among Warrington’s diverse professional experiences was commitment resulting in success. With Clay Warrington, there is no halfway measure. It is this commitment that combines with his time and talents in order to ensure that he is backing up his personal beliefs with actions. This commitment to volunteerism and community support is one of the many family traits he shares with his wife, Liz, of 31 years. They both believe strongly in giving back, through their churches, local community organizations, the Salvation Army, and their alma maters.
“There are people I have encountered who say ‘I’m not going to give that place (their alma mater) a dime! I made my own success’,” says Warrington. “These are the same people who grumble about the state of education or that the institution hasn’t done anything for them since graduating. They just don’t get it. In return, I say to them, ‘What’s it done for you? Well, without that piece of paper (diploma), perhaps you wouldn’t be where you are today; doors wouldn’t have opened, and opportunities would have been lost.’”
While serving on the board of visitors for the School of Pharmacy for six years, Warrington has been engaged in the School’s fundraising efforts, and he understands how important financial support is to the School’s continued growth and excellence.
“Now is the right time for Maryland alumni to support their beliefs with action. Giving has always been meaningful, but especially now because the rate of state support continues to decline,” says Warrington. “We all want the excellence and quality of the School of Pharmacy’s programs to continue to rise. With application volume increasing, along with the demand for Maryland Brand Pharmacists, and GPAs on the rise, we now have highly qualified people competing for the same slots. How can an education at a professional state school remain affordable without additional support?”
With convictions like these and personal financial commitments to back up his statements, Warrington was invited this summer to serve as the School of Pharmacy’s initial spokesperson for the newly launched Legacy Council. The Legacy Council is a University-wide recognition society that provides information about planned giving vehicles and other benefits of estate planning to alumni and friends.
“For me, a legacy doesn’t need to be a plaque or naming of a lecture hall, it’s the mere satisfaction that you are contributing, through your time or financial commitment, to something that enabled you to have a rewarding and meaningful life.”
Said like a truly committed volunteer.