The Pro Bene Meritis Award is the highest honor bestowed by the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. First granted in 1984, it is given each spring to alumni, faculty and friends of the college who are committed to the liberal arts, have made outstanding contributions in professional or philanthropic pursuits or have participated in service related to the college.
Robert Dedman Jr. is a steadfast supporter of liberal arts students through the Dedman Distinguished Scholars Program, a four-year, merit-based scholarship program that has funded 132 outstanding scholars at UT Austin since 1989. Dedman is president and CEO of DFI Management, Ltd. and general partner of Putterboy, Ltd. His company now owns Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, which hosted the 2014 U.S. Open for both men and women. He lives in Dallas with his wife, Rachael, and his two children, Catherine and Nancy.
Why did you choose to endow a scholarship program in UT’s College of Liberal Arts?
Our family believes in the fundamental value of a liberal arts education that teaches you not what to think, or how to think, but most importantly how to think for yourself. A liberal arts education develops the skills to think critically, question everything, synthesize various perspectives, derive conclusions and then act on your convictions.
What qualities define a Dedman Scholar?
1. Insatiable curiosity in searching for the truth and its meaning.
2. A passion for challenging the status quo.
3. Servant leadership.
4. Makes time for family, friends and having fun.
What advice would you give to the incoming class of Dedman Scholars?
My advice would be to live a balanced life: have a plan, focus on lifelong learning, have an attitude of gratitude and create your own noble purpose by applying the four qualities above. As Mark Twain said, “The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you figure out why you were born.”
When you were a student at the University of Texas, did you already have a strong vision for what you wanted to do with your life?
My vision at the time was to get the best possible education I could (including getting an MBA and law degree) that would expose me to ideas, opportunities and people regardless of my ultimate chosen field of endeavor.
How do you define success?
It is best captured by John Wesley’s admonition: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, at all the times you can, in all the places you can, for all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My parents—my mother gave me unconditional love, and my father gave me unconditional coaching.
You’ve been named one of the most influential people in golf. What is your favorite course to play?
Pinehurst No. 2, especially after the restoration done by UT alumnus Ben Crenshaw’s firm Coore & Crenshaw. They captured the original design intent of Donald Ross and Mother Nature, which will position Pinehurst to host our nation’s championships for at least the next 100 years.