Texas Tech alumnus gives back to the university that started his career and reflects on the first annual Day of Giving.
Scott Dadich is passionate about many things.
Magazine design, building apps, bagels and Texas Tech University.
Dadich is an award-winning designer, accomplished editor and Emmy-nominated filmmaker. He is the co-founder of Godfrey Dadich Partners, a firm that leverages the best of journalism, strategy and design to tell stories for some of America's most significant brands.
Dadich has worked at Texas Monthly, Wired and Condé Nast, and in 2011 was named one of the 50 most influential designers in America by Fast Company. He also has collaborated with companies such as Nike, IBM, Google, Microsoft, Apple and National Geographic.
The Lubbock native and San Francisco transplant has worked closely with some of the brightest minds in the country: Barack Obama, Christopher Nolan and J.J. Abrams just to name a few. But some of his favorite collaborations came early in his career at Texas Tech.
From the notorious Frank and Jane Cheatham to the entire design department in the School of Art housed within the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts, Dadich was supported by people who set him on a path of success.
Dadich now hopes to do the same for others.
In 2020, Dadich and his wife Amy set up an endowed scholarship in design communication for art students at Texas Tech. The scholarship prioritizes students from underrepresented communities in the design industry.
This summer, Dadich used his birthday as an opportunity to raise funds for the endowment. His community raised more than $30,000 during a two-week GoFundMe campaign.
As Texas Tech prepares for its first annual Day of Giving, Aug. 16-17, we thought we could learn a thing or two about generosity from Dadich.
You've been a part of many organizations throughout your career; why focus your giving on Texas Tech?
Design is a real passion for me. It's what gets me up in the morning. I love the impact design creates and the problems it solves. I also am acutely aware that without some individuals offering me a chance in this industry, I wouldn't be on the path I'm on now. I am very privileged in that way.
Because of Lubbock and the Texas Tech community, I found my path. But there are lots of people who don't have those opportunities. Youth of color face intense barriers when it comes to accessing secondary education, particularly in fields of study such as design. Providing potential students with opportunity is one of the most powerful ways I know to change the world.
I want to give those opportunities at Texas Tech because I know firsthand the high level of education students receive there. Because I grew up in Lubbock, sometimes I think I underestimated Texas Tech as many of us do with the universities in our hometowns. But when I enrolled, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of curricula and expertise of the faculty. So, I know it's a solid investment for any student wanting to go into design.
You mention privilege – when were you first aware of your own privilege, especially in the design industry?
That goes back to my first agency job in Lubbock. I got an internship with the Price Group while I was a college student and reported to an art director named Sonia Aguirre.
It was early on working with her that I recognized how many barriers she had faced – barriers I'd never encounter. The fact she was Latina and a woman had made it very hard for her to break into the industry, yet she worked hard and was so good at what she did. I learned a lot from her as she took me under her wing. That internship was the thing that cemented my transition into design.
How did you land that internship? Was that a connection through Texas Tech?
No, it actually was because of a bagel shop. I worked at Hoot's Bagels, which was very popular at the time in Lubbock. One day I was lettering the menu on the chalkboards and decided to make them a bit more aesthetic. On one occasion, I tried out different designs and colors and the owners of the shop liked the results. Sonia was one of our regular customers, and she noticed my work. I guess she was impressed enough to offer me an internship.
I have to ask, what's your favorite kind of bagel?
It's hard to go wrong with an everything bagel, some plain shmear and tomato with red onion. It's so good!
How do you decide what to give your time, talent and resources to?
I think selfishly it starts with what I'm interested in. That's important because you need that passion. If you're not excited, it's hard to apply your talents or resources effectively. Second, I ask myself if my contributions to a project make sense. Maybe I'm excited about it but what I have to offer isn't what the project really needs. That happens sometimes, and you must be humble enough to recognize it. Third, I look to the agenda set by leaders. Why is this thing, in this place – at this time? What purpose is it intended to serve? These are questions that the leaders of organizations should be giving clear answers to. When all these things click at once and it's a group that's doing good in the world, then it's kind of a no brainer.
To give, you must care and to care, you must listen. What have you learned about listening? How important is it to what you do?
I come to listening from a professional mindset. Because of having more than 25 years of experience as a journalist, we're professional listeners. Our job is to go out and be curious and ask good questions. So, for me, listening has been part of my every day since I worked for Vistas magazine at Texas Tech. That first magazine job really clicked for me, and it was there that I realized active listening was key to being successful in the industry.
But in terms of generosity, we can't make assumptions about what's needed. We need to ask. We need to have the humility to know we don't have all the answers, and the self-awareness to know when to be quiet and just listen to those who do know.
What are the tangible social changes you'd like to see come out of your giving to the School of Art?
I'd like to see students who maybe wouldn't have had access to a college education see their way through the program and enter the workforce. I believe by doing that, they're going to effect change that urgently needs to happen in our society. Whether that's social or racial equity, climate change, building better businesses, bettering the gears of our democracy; there's no shortage of problems and we need talented designers to help solve them.
I believe design is not about how something looks, but how it works. We can create a more equitable and inclusive society through the power of design.
Most people can't create an endowment, but we can all do something. You practiced generosity before you attained the success you now have. Where would you encourage people to start?
I think you just have to try different pathways and see what feels right for you personally. Volunteering in your community is always a great place to start. It feels great to give back and most people can give an hour of time once every week or so.
I do think it's discouraging at times to try and make a difference because we're inundated with tragic headlines all the time. It's hard to see the impact that generosity can have because it's not always highlighted. But when you look at the long arc of human history, the human condition tends to improve. We've never had more access to education than we do now, global extreme poverty is on the decline, and the global number of democracies has increased.
So, I'd encourage people to look at the big picture. Generosity does make a difference and events such as Texas Tech's Day of Giving are moments where you get to see your generosity pay off in tangible and rewarding ways.