William A. “Bill” Goldring (BBA ’64) was just a few weeks into his college career when he told his father he was seriously thinking of dropping out. University life wasn’t living up to his expectations, he said, and he was eager to get on with his life.
“My father asked me what I was going to do, and I said I was going to go work for him,” Goldring recalls. “He said, ‘I only hire college graduates.’ So I went back that night and opened a book for probably the first time that semester.”
It was a wise decision. After muddling through his non-business classes, Goldring found his calling at the School of Business, earning almost straight A’s from that point on. He ended up graduating from Tulane in just three years.
“There’s so much I learned there that stuck with me over the years,” says Goldring, who cites Bennie Capella and Jim Murphy as two of his most influential professors.
Goldring spent a year working for Seagram’s in New York, Maryland and New Jersey following his graduation, but his ultimate goal was always to join his father, Stephen Goldring, at Magnolia Liquor Co., the liquor, wine and beer distributing company his father had co-founded in 1944.
In 1969, Goldring became executive vice president at Magnolia, in charge of all day-to-day operations. In 1982 he succeeded his father as president, and in 1991 he was named chairman of the company. He also became chairman of the Sazerac Co., a producer and importer/ exporter of liquor that the family had purchased in 1948. Under Goldring’s leadership, the businesses grew to be among the nation’s largest and most successful beverage alcohol companies.
In 2010, Goldring sold Republic National Distributing Co., the successor to Magnolia Liquor Co., which by then had become the nation’s second largest wine and liquor wholesaler. He continues to serve as chairman of Sazerac, the largest distiller in America and producer of more than 250 different brands of beverage alcohol, and Crescent Crown Distributing Co., the nation’s fourth largest beer distributor.
Over the course of his career, Goldring also became one of New Orleans’ leading philanthropists, lending his support to a wide range of community projects including the National World War II Museum, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Audubon Institute, Woldenberg Park, New Orleans City Park and Woldenberg Retirement Village, but probably the biggest beneficiary of his financial support has been Tulane University and the A. B. Freeman School of Business.
Goldring and his father began supporting Tulane athletics in the late 1970s and expanded their philanthropy to the business school during Dean Meyer Feldberg’s administration. In 1985 he and his father along with business partner Mal Woldenberg donated the anchor gift for the construction of Goldring/Woldenberg Hall, which became the new home of the then newly named A. B. Freeman School of Business.
“There hadn’t been a new building on campus in almost 20 years,” Goldring says. “Goldring/Woldenberg Hall was the first, and after it was completed, there was a series of buildings that were built. Over a period of five to seven years, Tulane had the most construction of any major university in the United States.”
Goldring joined the Board of Tulane in 1986 and provided gifts to establish the Goldring Tennis Center, the Malcolm S. Woldenberg Chair of Marketing, the Goldring Institute of International Business and the Woldenberg Art Center. In 2003 he provided the anchor gift for Goldring/Woldenberg Hall II, the Freeman School’s new building for graduate and executive programs.
Most recently, in 2009, Goldring purchased a 17-acre tract of land a short distance from Tulane’s uptown campus which will one day house a world-class track and field and tennis stadium, soccer fields, and sandlot volleyball courts.
He’s also tirelessly volunteered his service to the university and the Freeman School. A longtime member of the Business School Council, Goldring was part of the search committee that brought former dean James W. McFarland to the business school in 1988. In 2003, he was instrumental in the Board of Tulane’s decision to maintain Tulane’s status in Division 1, the highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the NCAA. While he’s a proud alumnus, Goldring says his support of Tulane and the business school goes beyond school loyalty.
“A vibrant business school brings students to New Orleans, and if we get just a small percentage of those out-of-town students to end up staying — which always happens whether it’s business, law or medicine — the city of New Orleans has a huge advantage,” Goldring says. “It’s so important to the city. It’s an asset you just can’t measure. It’s priceless.”
On the 50th anniversary of his graduation from the business school, Goldring remains as committed to Tulane as ever. In 2013, after serving as an emeritus member for 10 years, he rejoined the Board of Tulane as a full voting member, becoming the first member in history to rejoin the board.
“I grew up and lived my entire life within one mile of the university,” he says. “I feel it’s as much a part of me as my family.”