Phyllis Scott Buford | 1940-2016
Third Consortium leader modernized OP, corporate relationships
Dr. Phyllis Scott Buford, the third leader of The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, died June 5, 2016, at age 75. During her tenure as The Consortium’s CEO, from 1996 to 2002, Dr. Buford significantly enhanced the profile of the organization’s marquee event, the annual Orientation Program & Career Forum.
She moved students out of college dorms into hotels. She developed sponsorships and underwriting packages for corporate sponsors, which provided resources for a professional, more dazzling event, with high-profile guest speakers, entertainment and networking events.
During her tenure, The Consortium also grew from 11 member schools to 14, adding Dartmouth College in 1999; and Emory University and Carnegie Mellon University in 2001.
She was also instrumental in moving The Consortium’s corporate advisory board to a more prominent position in the organization’s governance during her time as its leader. According to her bio in The Consortium’s commemorative history, Leading the Challenge of Change, published for The Consortium’s 50th anniversary:
If the OP has historically been regarded as The Consortium’s preeminent event, Phyllis took it to another level. In 1998, Phyllis ended the policy of opening the OP to fellowship winners only. Including both fellows and non-fellows provided corporate sponsors access to a larger pool of talented students. In collaboration with members of the corporate advisory board, she moved the OP from a Consortium expense to a revenue generator. She brought in nationally recognized speakers and provided outstanding entertainment such as a Broadway show in New York City and a Lion King extravaganza at Disney World. She also coordinated interactive receptions and presentations with corporate sponsors, and increased networking and interviewing opportunities for students and sponsors.
Dr. Buford was the first leader to come to The Consortium with no previous connection to the organization. Unlike founder Sterling Schoen, who conceived the concept, and Wallace L. Jones, ascended to its leadership after serving as Schoen’s assistant, Dr. Buford’s arrival at The Consortium was “somewhat circuitous” as described in Leading the Challenge of Change.
While she had no prior affiliation with The Consortium, she brought with her an understanding of the challenges the organization faced and a committed energy for meeting them head on. When announcing her appointment in January 1996, the chairman of The Consortium’s board of directors, (University of Rochester Simon Business School) Dean Charles Plosser stated that Dr. Buford was the ideal person to continue and expand upon the record of accomplishment left behind by the retiring Dr. Wallace Jones.
Dr. Buford was born in Beckville, Texas. Her father, Truman Steed Scott, was a school teacher and her mother, Ell Rayson Scott, maintained the home and cared for Phyllis and her three siblings.
After graduating from Texas College in 1962, she became a teacher in Kansas City and traveled with her college sweetheart, Sharnia “Tab” Buford, who was drafted into the U.S. Army and relocated to Salinas, Calif. Her travels and career, along with that of her husband, took her back to Kansas City and ultimately to New York City, where she worked at Medgar Evers College.
As the book goes on to describe:
After years of calling New York home, Phyllis found herself facing a major change in her life in 1995. Her husband accepted a bank leadership position in St. Louis, which necessitated a move back to the Midwest. The Bufords’ daughter, who was a young adult at the time, chose to remain in New York. Upon arriving in St. Louis and finding herself in the market for an opportunity of her own, Phyllis learned that The Consortium was conducting a search for a chief executive officer. She applied for the position and the rest, as they say, is history.