By Steven A. Simon, USAFA ‘77
Mr. A. Bart Holaday, USAFA Class of 1965, has been selected as the winner of the Academy’s 2009 Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes his outstanding service and unfailing support to the Academy. Lieutenant General Mike Gould, Academy superintendent, will present the award during the Parents’ Weekend Parade Sept. 4.
“The selection is a true testament to your exemplary support throughout the years,” wrote Lt. Gen. John Regni, former superintendent, in his May 2009 congratulatory letter to General McCarthy, announcing the selection.
Mr. Holaday admitted being “at first very surprised and then deeply humbled,” upon being notified of his selection. “I am at the stage of life where trying to give back to the Academy is a real privilege,” he said, adding, “I hope that the award may cause others-when the time is right for them-to think about how they can give back to our Academy.”
Mr. Holaday’s personal commitment to academic and military excellence at the Air Force Academy has spanned decades and has positively impacted virtually every Academy program. The class president of the Air Force Academy Class of 1965 and a Rhodes Scholar, has spent time in both the public and private sectors. He retired in 2001 as managing director of the Private Markets Group of UBS Asset Management in Chicago, where he and his team managed $19 billion in assets. He has been an active and successful philanthropist.
In support of the Air Force Academy, Mr. Holaday currently serves as vice president and a member of the board of trustees of the Falcon Foundation. Retired Brig. Gen. Randy Cubero, Falcon Foundation president, spoke about Mr. Holaday’s value to the Foundation and the Academy: “Bart Holaday has been a Falcon Foundation Trustee for the last 25 years. Always an active participant at our biannual meetings, Bart was selected for the officer position of vice president because of his demonstrated leadership abilities and the respect he has earned from everyone in the organization,” General Cubero said. “He is recognized by his colleagues for his deep commitment and dedication to the mission of the Falcon Foundation. Moreover, because of his extensive financial experience and expertise he was also selected as a member of the critically important Finance Committee. During these last three years of economic downturn, the Finance Committee and Bart Holaday, in particular, were instrumental in positioning our portfolio assets in long term conservative and less risky investments with two outstanding financial managers.”
Mr. Holaday is also a Founding Director of the USAFA Endowment, a charitable foundation dedicated to raising private funds in support of the Air Force Academy. He is currently the chairman of the board of the endowment. U.E. Vice President Terry Drabant had nothing but praise for Mr. Holaday, saying, “From the Academy onward, Bart has been an exemplar of Air Force values even before they were formally codified-Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do. Bart truly deserves this award.”
In 2003, Mr. Holaday and his wife, Lynn, established and endowed a scholarship that annually sends a top Academy graduate to Exeter College at England’s Oxford University for two years of graduate study. The Holaday Scholarship enables a top-ranking cadet who competes for, but does not receive, a Rhodes Scholarship, to do his or her graduate work at Oxford. The Class of 2009 recipient is 2nd Lt. Roni Yadlin.
“I am truly indebted to Mr Holaday, and his wife, for their generosity and willingness to invest in Air Force Academy alumni. His scholarship provides a wonderful opportunity that I never dreamed I would be given. I am very excited about the prospect of studying at University of Oxford and I hope that, in the future, I can contribute even a fraction of what he has to the Air Force Academy and its future cadets,” she said.
Mr. Holaday has also been a significant financial supporter of athletic and character and leadership programs at the Academy, most recently the Senior Scholar-in-Residence program.
He holds the distinction of being the first Academy graduate to win the Distinguished Service Award.
“I think the fact that I am the first Academy graduate to receive the award is largely a reflection of the reality that our Academy is relatively young,” he says. “My generation of graduates is now old enough that we are in a position to spend time and resources pursuing charitable interests at the Academy. I am sure going forward there will be many more graduates who receive this award.”
The Academy established the Distinguished Service Award in February 1999. Each year it is presented by the superintendent to an individual or organization whose contributions have had a distinct impact on the morale or well-being of the Academy. The Distinguished Service Award is intended to recognize those who contribute not as part of their official duty, but through their personal generosity and dedication, to the institution.
As is the case for most Academy graduates, the Academy played a central role in Mr. Holaday’s professional development.
“The Academy instilled in me the values that guided the rest of my life: hard work, persistence, integrity, duty, loyalty, teamwork, sacrifice and trust,” he said. “These values are important regardless of which career path a graduate follows. The significance of integrity and the establishment of trust among those you work with cannot be overstated. Trust is fundamentally built by consistent, successful, high-integrity behavior. One of the important lessons of life I have learned is that with trust almost anything is possible; without trust, very little is possible.”
Mr. Holaday’s inspirational leadership and selfless support have greatly helped the U.S. Air Force Academy remain one of the nation’s foremost institutions of higher learning.