Late WT Alum’s Leadership Philosophy Still Carries on at AT&T

Chip Chandler Oct 19, 2022
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Late WT Alum’s Leadership Philosophy Still Carries on at AT&T

COO to Speak on Campus Oct. 27 for Sigman Leadership & Innovation Series


Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — A “Treat People Right” attitude put into place by a West Texas A&M University alumnus set the tone for AT&T’s well-regarded response to Hurricane Ian.

That philosophy, laid out by former AT&T executive and WT alumnus Stan Sigman, is still the “north star” at the company, which Jeff McElfresh, the company’s chief operating officer, will discuss for the 2022 installment of WT’s Stan Sigman Leadership and Innovation Series.

“That was a value that Stan lived and that he expected from others—not just empathy and respect, but taking direct action when people need help,” McElfresh said.

McElfresh, one of the top executives at the telecommunications giant, will discuss Sigman’s leadership philosophies and how they still influence him and the company with the community and with students from WT’s Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business.

The discussion will begin at 9:45 a.m. Oct. 27 in Legacy Hall inside the Jack B. Kelley Student Center on the Canyon campus.

The event is free and open to the public.

McElfresh saw Sigman’s leadership in action when Hurricane Katrina made landfall in 2005.

“Stan helped us prepare for the worse, and we went on to execute our restoration flawlessly,” McElfresh said. “Stan himself was on the scene, and he made sure AT&T supported not only its employees, many of whom lost everything, but also our customers, who were also suffering greatly.”

During Hurricane Ian, following the late Sigman’s people-first attitude, AT&T pre-positioned crews, generators and vehicles, making sure that, despite terrible devastation, the company was able to respond quickly and effectively.

In addition to working closely with first responders and government agencies and supplying food, water and charging stations, AT&T waived overage fees and let people who use other carriers tap into the AT&T network.

“Stan’s example of how we respond in a disaster is a lesson we still carry through today,” McElfresh said.

The series, named for a late alumnus and supporter of WT, was made possible through gifts from Sigman’s former AT&T colleagues. The gifts also established the Stan Sigman Scholarship Endowment and the Stan Sigman Endowed Professorship in Business, held by Dr. Jeffry Babb.

McElfresh also will hold a private session with College of Business faculty and students and record an episode of the Sigman Leadership and Innovation podcast.

McElfresh has 27 years of experience with AT&T in a variety of strategic, operational and technology leadership roles. Most of his career has been in AT&T’s Mobility business — the biggest single driver of AT&T’s consolidated revenues. 

The Sigman Leadership and Innovation Series spotlights WT’s commitment to providing a nurturing yet rigorous educational environment for its students, faculty, alumni and communities across the Panhandle, as laid out in the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021 — has raised more than $110 million.



About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 59 undergraduate degree programs and more than 40 graduate degrees, including two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.