David and Leslie Lawson: Gifts from the heart
David and Leslie Lawson fell in love and married young. While things were not always easy, Dave’s entrepreneurial spirit and Leslie’s can-do attitude created a formidable pair. The Lawsons went on to have three children and, in time, seven grandchildren.
Dave earned his accounting degree from TU in 1970, going straight to work at Arthur Andersen. In two years, he quickly moved up the ladder to senior auditor and manager two years after that. He was named a partner in 1980. In 1989, the university tapped the rising business leader to serve on TU’s Board of Trustees, which he did selflessly until 2014. “We were living in Texas, and Dave would drive to Tulsa for Golden Hurricane basketball games during the week,” Leslie said.
Dave chaired the board from 2008 to 2012 and guided the university into a new era of growth and progress, embarking upon the most ambitious fundraising effort in TU history. The Embrace the Future Campaign raised more than $600 million to transform the campus.
Dave was running Summit Acceptance Corp., a car-loan company, when it was purchased by Capital One Financial Corp. in 1998. He was named senior vice president and chief financial officer at Capital One in 2003. He went on to serve as president and CEO of Capital One Auto Finance before retiring in 2008.
One of seven children, Dave saw his father and even some of his siblings succumb to Alzheimer’s Disease. He devoted his spare time to serving on the board of the Alzheimer’s Association, but no amount of commitment to the cause could reverse the story fate had written; Dave recently was diagnosed with the debilitating disease and has begun receiving specialized care from a cadre of skilled and caring nurses.
In the fall of 2017, The University of Tulsa announced the establishment of the Lawson Family Nursing Simulation Center and Skills Laboratory and Natalie Lawson Dooley Endowed Scholarship in Nursing to better prepare TU students in the Oxley College of Health Sciences for employment in the medical field.
“The Lawsons have always sought to make a difference in the lives of our students and in our community. These endowments will ensure bright futures for generations of TU graduates and help them meet Oklahoma’s growing healthcare needs.”
– President Gerard P. Clancy, M.D.
The lab and scholarship were made possible through the generosity of Dave and Leslie Lawson. The family has made more than 200 gifts to support vital university programs and initiatives, including an endowed faculty chair in the Collins College of Business, several endowed scholarships and TU athletics and facilities.
“This latest support for the TU School of Nursing stays true to the Lawson family’s philanthropic values and their loyalty to TU,” said TU President Gerard P. Clancy, M.D. “The Lawsons have always sought to make a difference in the lives of our students and in our community. These endowments will ensure bright futures for generations of TU graduates and help them meet Oklahoma’s growing healthcare needs.”
Leslie said these gifts represent the appreciation her family has for the many medical professionals who care for her husband. The gifts also are in honor of the couple’s daughter Natalie Lawson Dooley (BS ’95), who serves as a critical care nurse. Dooley said her father would be proud to see how his alma mater is working to improve the lives of so many in the community.
The Lawson Family Nursing Simulation Center and Skills Laboratory, located in the School of Nursing’s new facility near downtown Tulsa, is being outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment to prepare TU graduates for a successful transition into healthcare careers. The Lawsons’ gift is helping to pay for hospital beds; vital statistics monitoring equipment; simulation mannequins; nursing supplies, such as gloves, gowns, tubing and respiratory equipment; and maintenance agreements for high-fidelity equipment, including mannequins, monitors, audio simulators and CPUs.
“Nothing would make Dave happier than knowing we are providing critical financial support to future nurses and giving them the tools to receive hands-on training in a high-tech setting at his alma mater,” Leslie said. “And helping others achieve their dreams gives me hope for the future.”