A Simple Charge

Trustee David O’Maley pays forward a special gift he received as a young man

Embry-Riddle Board member David O’Maley recalls a time when he was a young man with a passion for aviation and someone helped him finance his flight training.

“He left me with a simple charge. And that was, if you are able at some point in your life, the charge to you, young man, is that you will do things to help other young people achieve their grade and success,” says O’Maley, a nationally prominent insurance executive who recently made a significant gift to support the Daytona Beach Campus’ College of Business.

University leadership, faculty, staff and students turned out to welcome and honor O’Maley and his wife, Karen, at a Nov. 13, 2018, naming ceremony for the David B. O’Maley College of Business.

O’Maley says he intends for his gift to enable the creation of a new generation of aviation business leaders. “We see this gift as a unique and powerful way to leverage aviation and business education into the future,” he says.

With O’Maley’s generous gift, Embry-Riddle will be able to elevate its College of Business — already widely regarded as offering the best aviation business administration program in the world — to even greater heights, says university President P. Barry Butler. He describes the gift as “a key moment for business education at Embry-Riddle that helps us expand the reach and more closely integrate business education into our other areas of focus — engineering and aviation — as we move into the future.”

Catalyst for Change

O’Maley’s gift will lead the university’s effort to advance its business curriculum, which includes developing a robust focus on aviation risk management and insurance, adding an interdisciplinary certificate program for engineers, and devising a combination of certificates and executive education to support preparation of chief pilots for corporations.

Michael Williams, dean of the College of Business, says the O’Maley family’s gift will support breakthroughs in industry operations and safety and manufacturing through transformative ideas and technologies.

“It will allow our students to turn research into new business opportunities, moving their discoveries from our labs into the Micaplex Engineering and Innovation Complex as startups, and then out into the real world,” Williams says.

David B. O'Maley, Maddie Dietrich and other Business Eagles in the College of Business atrium at the dedication ceremony.

College of Business student Maddie Dietrich says the O’Maleys’ gift sends a powerful message about the importance of philanthropy. “The O’Maleys’ transformative gift not only impacts the future of Embry-Riddle, but serves as an inspirational example of charitable giving that will influence the way my fellow Eagles and I view the importance of personal philanthropy for the rest of our lives,” Dietrich says.

O’Maley has served on Embry-Riddle’s Board of Trustees since 2014, and is currently a member of the development and finance committees. He is also chair for the board’s committee on business initiatives and was appointed by President Butler to chair a special committee that’s reviewing the strategy and direction of the College of Business.

Leading through Business

A national business leader and innovator, O’Maley is currently lead director on the board of directors for U.S. Bank. O’Maley retired in 2012 from Ohio National Financial Services, a leading provider of competitive individual life and annuity products through more than 40,000 distributors nationwide. Through his leadership as CEO and president, the company grew from $4.1 billion assets under management in 1993 to more than $27 billion in 2010. He was elected chairman emeritus in recognition of his significant accomplishments.

In addition to his passion for business, O’Maley is an active pilot and aviation enthusiast, as well as a founder of the Tri-State Warbird Museum in Batavia, Ohio. The museum is dedicated to honoring America’s rich aviation history and features one of the largest collections of flyable World War II aircraft.

Naming ceremony name unveiling at the David B. O'Maley College of Business.
The College of Business was renamed the David B. O’Maley College of Business to honor his service and contributions to Embry-Riddle.

This gift is not the family’s first to Embry-Riddle. In 2013, they established the O’Maley Family Endowed Scholarship Fund to support students at the college.

Embry-Riddle’s College of Business, established in 2003 and with a history dating to 1966, offers a variety of degree programs, from the bachelor’s to the Ph.D. level. Students get not just the textbook knowledge, but also the practical knowledge about what’s going on in the aviation business industry, says Norbert J. Zarb, chair of the department of accounting, economics, finance, and information sciences.

O’Maley says he believes all students, regardless of their program of study, need some grounding in business — so they can become leaders in the industry.

“I’ve always said that nothing happens until somebody … provides some direction and takes the initiative to move things forward,” O’Maley says. “Together, with the outstanding leadership at Embry-Riddle, we can innovate, grow and watch the business college move forward to a dimension it has never seen before.”