Bauer College board member focuses on engagement
MILTON FRANKFORT (’67) USED HIS BAUER DEGREE TO BUILD ONE OF HOUSTON’S LARGEST ACCOUNTING FIRMS AND NOW SERVES ON THE BAUER COLLEGE BOARD, LEADING THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON COMMUNITY AND ALUMNI ENGAGEMENT.
The business community today understands that Bauer College is a major resource to our city.
If you ask Milton Frankfort to describe Bauer College, he’ll put it simply.
“This is where business education meets business reality.”
Frankfort, co-chairman at Frankfort Lipp Capital Advisors, LLC, earned a BBA in accounting from the University of Houston in 1967, several decades before Charles T. “Ted” Bauer’s $40 million gift to name Bauer College.
He’s stayed involved with the college through service on the Accounting Advisory Board and the Bauer College Board, along with giving back through scholarships, mentoring and recruiting Bauer students. He earned the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Accounting Advisory Board in 2007.
Shortly after his undergraduate studies, Frankfort pursued a doctor of law degree from South Texas College of Law, graduating in 1971. He co-founded Mann Frankfort Stein & Lipp in 1971. The firm later became UHY Advisors, the fifth largest accounting firm in Houston. Upon the acquisition of UHY Advisors-Texas by BDO in late 2014, Frankfort retired from the firm after a 44-year career. He and his partner Arnold Lipp continued their business consulting and advisory practice with Frankfort Lipp Capital Advisors, LLC, working with owners and decision-makers of middle market businesses to grow and transition through the phases of startup, growth and expansion, and succession/transition. Their industry concentration includes real estate, manufacturing and distribution, healthcare, food manufacturing and distribution, law firms and other professional practices.
As a native Houstonian and an active member of the greater Houston community, Frankfort says that by supporting Bauer, he’s helping to sustain the city and university that gave him his start. We spoke to him recently to learn more about why he gives back.
Tell us about your experience serving on the Bauer College Board and what your role entails.
A: Board members serve in two capacities. First, it’s our responsibility to connect with the community. I’m the Bauer spokesman, if you will, among my friends, colleagues and business associates. Additionally, we offer thought leadership and planning ideas to the dean for her consideration. We try to constantly work on improvement and find best practices for the continued development of Bauer College.
Tell us more about why community service is so important to you.
A: Community service is important to me because it feels good. It’s an honor and a responsibility to give back any resources we can. The city of Houston and Bauer College wouldn’t be where we are today without the volunteer service of so many people who came before us. If you think about how much better humanity would be if everyone who could give back did give back, we’d be even better.
Tell us more about your experience as a student and now proud alumnus of the college.
A: Life at the University of Houston in the late 1960s was a lot different than it is today. Back then, this was a no-frills, no-thrills university. Many of the students had jobs, worked before school, had night jobs and were doing whatever they could do to stay in school, as I was. I got a solid, basic business and accounting education. I worked very hard during the day on that. In the afternoon, there used to be a meatpacking plant across the street on Calhoun, and I worked as a bookkeeper there. That’s how I was able to attend UH.
Coming back to the campus as an alumnus, is an eye-opener. Today, we have so many different things happening here — it’s just a different place. We’re living in a small city here in the Bauer College (with its three buildings on campus), where all my classes in the ‘60s were in one building. It’s a dramatic change.
How did you apply what you learned as a business student to your professional career?
A: My education helped me pass my CPA exam and, along with other talented people, played a key role in taking what was a two-man accounting firm and grow it into the fifth largest accounting firm in Houston. That all started right here at this university.
What kind of transformation have you seen at Bauer College and on campus in the last five to 10 years?
A: There has been a major transformational shift in the last several years. Before that, through wonderful generosity, Ted Bauer put the college on the map (with his gift of $40 million to name the school). We added to the already tremendous faculty and today have world-class faculty and other resources.
In recent years, just thinking of a few things, through Melvyn and Cyvia Wolff’s generosity, we really propelled the entrepreneurship program at Bauer, which ranks in the top in the nation today.
We also recently started a real estate program here. We have real estate development and activity going around all over the Gulf Coast. What better place for a real estate program than right here at Bauer College?
Earlier this year, Stephen Stagner endowed our Sales Excellence Institute. We always say in business that nothing happens until the sale is made, and now, we’re teaching the profession of selling. That produced a major transformational change.
The business community today understands that Bauer College is a major resource to our city, and there’s an excitement on campus because of all these changes.
Why do you think it’s important for Houston to have a leading business school with a global focus?
A: Houston is the fourth largest city in the country, close to being the third largest. We have the second largest port in the country right here in Houston. Business starts in Houston. We are a major commercial center and a major metropolitan area. We know that a majority of the graduates from Bauer College stay here in Houston, so what better reason to reinvest and develop the college to its maximum potential? It’s good for the city. We’re improving the city of Houston when we improve Bauer College.
You’re leading the Bauer College Board subcommittee focused on community and alumni engagement. What are your plans for this initiative?
A: When someone graduates from the university, they go get a job, maybe go to graduate school or spend more time with their family — their lives change a little bit. We believe it’s substantially important to maintain a connection with those alumni so they can understand the changes happening here within the college. We want them to know about the programming and events we offer that would be of interest to them and give them an opportunity to meet and network with other business owners. We think our alumni have an understanding of the asset we have here and would be willing to give back to the university if they understand what the needs are.
One of my favorite things, serving on the board, is to invite business leaders I know who have been successful to come back to Bauer and be a guest lecturer or speak to a student group, perhaps act as a mentor. That’s an advantage we didn’t have many years ago in the 1960s.
How would you describe Bauer College to a friend or colleague who doesn’t know much about the school?
A: I think Bauer is a very vibrant place. We have a world-class faculty with a diverse student body. We have business leaders coming here to teach. This is a place where business theory meets business reality.
You’ve been an active alumnus, from supporting scholarships to serving on the board and recruiting Bauer graduates.
Why is that important to you?
A: It’s all in an effort to continue to improve a beloved institution of mine. I got my start here. Without the university, I don’t think I would have enjoyed the success that I’ve enjoyed, and it just personally feels good to be part of a team to nurture and grow Bauer College, which is a valuable asset for our community.
What do you see on the horizon for Bauer?
A: In the next five or 10 years, I would like Bauer College to be the college of choice for more and more very capable freshmen starting their university experience. That’s a goal that we will likely achieve.
Secondly, I’m hopeful that business leaders will collaborate and work more with Bauer graduates — such that a Bauer graduate will be the standard by which they compare everyone else.
You took a business degree from the University of Houston and achieved great success. What advice would you give an incoming student?
A: You’ve got to work hard. The business courses can be challenging while providing a significant educational experience. I’d also take advantage of meeting the business leaders in our community who come to campus. Lifelong relationships are formed here. And, I would advise an incoming student to learn about each of the departments within the Bauer College. When I started, I was going to be a physician, and somehow, I found out what accountants and CPA’s do, changed my major to accounting and never looked back.