Puts Feet to Philanthropy at SC
When Bob Jewell attended his very first meeting
at a Southwestern College trustee back in 1999, he didn’t
follow a pattern set by more experienced trustees as they filled
the room from the back to the front.
Jewell parked his papers in the front row, center
He laughs when he’s reminded of that moment;
it is, he says, the same way he chooses where to sit in church.
“It’s partially practical: I’m
deaf in one ear,” Jewell admits. “But it’s also
a personality trait—I tend to want to interact with the speaker.”
interaction has been a trait marking this 1977 graduate’s
relationship with Southwestern since he became a trustee, but the
interaction isn’t limited to meetings. As founding director
and senior vice president for Network Integration Services, Inc.,
Jewell pushed the college to expand its wireless network to include
all classrooms and public spaces on campus. Then, in the summer
of 2002, NIS contributed the wireless hardware—and Jewell
led NIS technicians as they crawled through dusty spaces installing
The transforming effect of the wireless network
is noticeable as students began carrying their laptop computers
as they went about daily work, something that hadn’t been
seen in the previous three years of the laptop program. Jewell doesn’t
take credit for the transformation, though.
“Wireless was extremely beneficial to the
use of the technology, but the other factor was that everyone had
a laptop. You had four years of the professors learning to teach
with an electronic student body,” he points out. “Now
you have a student body that can be online in class, which wasn’t
available before except in one or two wired rooms. Wireless didn’t
do it alone—it was a confluence of several factors.”
As an entrepreneur, Jewell is accustomed to hands-on
involvement with his company’s networking efforts throughout
the world. A few years ago, for example, NIS completed the computer
network design for the Tel Aviv airport. The result was more than
10,000 computers connected over a 25-square-kilometer network, handling
about 2,000,000 travelers every year.
Now, as head of the trustees’ facilities
and technology committee, Jewell continues to give feet to his philanthropy.
He and his wife, Barbara, are donors both financially and physically.
They will co-chair the Builders of Excellence capital campaign in
the Kansas City area, and hope the example of their commitment of
financial resources, expertise, and energy will inspire other donors.
The result is an effective combination. After all,
Bob says, his Southwestern experience was a pivotal point in his
life. As someone who had graduated with a class of 35 (from Peabody,
Kan.), the close-knit Southwestern experience was crucial.
“We want to make a difference at Southwestern,”
he says flatly. “If we can help the college with technology,
or with sweat labor, or with knowledge, these are all significant
“It’s a lifelong environment, and I
need to provide support to help future generations have the same
kind of environment.”