Tom Jackson

1.     Tell us about yourself: Where do you work and what’s your role?  How did you get to where you are today?

JACKSON: I’m 77 years old and was born in Orange, Ca and have lived here all of my life. I was educated here, lived here, married here, and had my children here at St. Joseph Hospital. People always ask me when I will retire and I always say you will find me dead at my desk.

Because of my profession in the travel industry, our family has been in the industry for 76 years, I have been to 151 countries in my lifetime and couldn’t imagine a better job. My actual title is the president of the company where I have succeeded my father. Overall, we’ve been in business as a corporation for 65 years. I went through high school then on to University and my dad suggested a course of study of becoming an attorney or a CPA or both, and I thought how boring that would be.

Through my course of study, I had the great opportunity to enroll at five universities. It took me nine semesters to get out of school with 150 semester units. While I flunked out on the front part of my college career, the last semester I had 18 units and made a 4.0 so I learned along the way.

My beginnings in the travel business, besides my first job stamping folders and delivering tickets on foot, was to sell tickets to Catalina Island on the Great White Steamer and that was my summer job for many summers. In addition to that, we had our own tour company where I was an assistant to a director on a number of trips. Later on, I became a tour director and escorted groups all over the world. When I was back home working, I was soliciting business from corporations, and putting together tour products. I was integrated pretty quickly because I understood the language, the verbiage of the business, and in those days we had little or no automation of any kind, everything was on the phone.

There were people who were concerned for us that the Internet would put us out of business, but obviously not. Two reasons we have not gone out of business is (1) we have been realistically financed, we have never done foolish things, always have paid our bills on time. We have adapted to change with huge changes in the business. Beneath all that, (2) the most important principle is that it’s all about the customer. That’s why we are here and why we have lasted for 76 years because of our values systems and respect for our clients. I hope it will be around for another 100 years but I’m not going to be here.

2.    What made you want to get involved with Chapman University? What has been your experience been like with Chapman University?

JACKSON: I’m a big proponent of Orange County and advocate of the City of Orange. I was born here, work here, and both of my sons went to the University. One graduated from Chapman College, and the other son, 10 years younger, graduated from Chapman University, both panthers. I was a contributor financially in a minor way, was approached by Chapman way back when, and was asked if I would be interested in being on a committee. Now, I have been on a number of community relationship committees with the University. I have been privileged to go to lectures and attend presentations on campus. Everyone loves success and Chapman has certainly been a success. It’s wonderful to think that I’m a little part of that.

3.    What made you want to get involved with the Argyros School and Argyros Society? 

JACKSON: Relationships. The Argyros Society isn’t hundreds of people, however from my perspective, it has quality people who all have the same values and belief systems of honesty, truthfulness, and trustworthiness.

4.    What has been some of your favorite moments while being on the Argyros Society or Chapman University?

JACKSON: Through invitation by the Argyros Society, I’ve enjoyed coming to campus to attend various presentations whether it be accounting, history, music, or to enjoy the Musco Center in its inaugural year—there isn’t just one thing. In my perspective, everything at Chapman is quality. Chapman doesn’t rush into things; they take a step at a time and all in the right direction. They walk cautiously, are financially responsible, and it’s nice to be affiliated with that sort of an organization.

5.    Where would you like to see the Argyros Society go in the future?

JACKSON: It would be nice to see it grow a bit maybe to 25 to 50 people since there are going to be life cycles where people come and people go. This is a little bit different than the Board of Trustees since [Argyros Society members] aren’t people that need to go overboard and be panthers 24 hours a day but the affiliation is an important one as it’s part of their well being. As long as the University is happy with the growth of the Argyros Society, which evidently they are, it’s good to me.

6.    Why do you think it is important to give back to your school? Whether it be your time, money, network?

JACKSON: Time is a factor for both money and networking and being apart of a belief system that benefits the University; after all, the University is about students. The University provides the super structure for building those relationships and everything with Chapman is pretty honest and straightforward. This isn’t a game and is the future for a lot of people. If you are able to participate either financially, time wise, or with knowledge, it feels good.