Passing Along the “Can Do” Spirit

November 17, 2023


Dorian Martin ’06

Vince Foster at Mays Business School at CityCentre Houston on Oct. 12, 2023, in Houston, Texas. (Laura McKenzie/Texas A&M University Division of Marketing & Communications)

Main Street Capital Chairman Vince Foster creates an endowed chair to ensure Aggies recruit and retain top accounting faculty.

After moving to Houston in the 1980s, Vince Foster fell in love with the Bayou City’s exciting possibilities. The Michigan native realized that the city’s growing population was a hotbed of entrepreneurial “can-do” spirit combined with an interesting cultural mix.

He decided to put down roots — and his professional career soon took off. As he became more involved in the Houston business community, Foster noticed that many leaders he looked up to were Texas A&M University former students. Soon, he began recruiting upcoming talent and eventually began speaking to Mays Business School classes. Over the years, these experiences have given him the opportunity to see Texas A&M’s stellar education and one-of-a-kind Aggie culture firsthand.

Now, Main Street Capital Corporation’s board chairman has created the Vincent D. Foster Endowed Chair in Mays’ James Benjamin Department of Accounting. With his characteristic intentionality, Foster decided to make this type of gift through the Texas A&M Foundation to support the entire Mays accounting student body. “The way to make a big impact is to make sure we attract and retain the faculty because the students are there because of the faculty,” Foster explained. “They are going to select the university ultimately as much on the faculty as anything else.”

The Foster Chair currently is supporting Dr. Matt Ege ’02, a leading scholar on auditing and financial reporting. “Chairs in essence provide an ongoing stable source of funds,” the professor said. “Having this commitment of funds through these gifts enables Mays to attract the best faculty, the best PhD students and help us provide the best education for undergraduate and graduate students.”

“Having the commitment of funds through these gifts enables Mays to attract the best faculty, the best PhD students and help us provide the best education for undergraduate and graduate students.” – Dr. Matt Ege ’02

Ege is currently using the chair’s funds in a number of ways. For example, he has hired a teaching assistant who will provide additional feedback to students who are taking a writing-intensive audit course and has purchased case studies for use in the auditing course he teaches. The funds are also being used to purchase research data and to support Ege’s and doctoral students’ attendance at conferences so they can present their research and network.


Foster didn’t initially think of Texas A&M when he heard the word “Aggies.” Instead, his frame of reference was tied to Michigan State University, his alma mater, which as a land grant university used the nickname of “Aggies” until 1925.

However, Foster quickly found himself revising his definition after graduation when he joined Arthur Andersen’s booming Houston office, where a significant percentage of the 1,000-person workforce were Texas A&M graduates. Foster soon was assigned to work with some of the company’s current and former partners, including Aggies E.L. “Pete” Wehner ’41, R.H. “Steve” Stephens ’62 and David Howard ’69, all of whom had a significant influence on the young accountant.

Arthur Andersen soon invited Foster to assist with recruiting at Texas A&M. “I very quickly got comfortable being on campus as a non-Aggie, which is admittedly unusual,” he laughingly noted. “We had a really effective recruiting program there and I got to know some of the professors, particularly those that taught tax courses because I was in the tax department because I had a CPA and a law degree.”


Foster remained at Arthur Andersen’s Houston office for 17 years before leaving in 1998 to form Main Street Capital (NYSE: MAIN), a firm focused on helping smaller businesses become publicly traded.

“We were involved in the consolidation of industries that weren’t yet represented by a public company, so it was pretty specialized,” he said. “We were pretty small when we started, but we’re up to about 100 people now.”

To support the company’s continued growth, Foster and company leaders established a formal recruitment and internship program about a decade ago — and Mays Business School was at the top of the list because of its pool of talented students. For example, Main Street hires 8-10 students for summer internships between their junior and senior years. Those that stand out receive a job offer at the end of their internship — and often those individuals are Aggies. “We’re looking for students who like what we do, are hard workers and get along with people,” Foster said. “In my opinion, the Aggies are typically our best recruiting prospects.”

Mays students’ commitment to embodying the Core Values has proven to be a good fit with Main Street, where Aggies comprise approximately 15% of the company’s workforce. “When Aggies are undergraduates, it’s part of the culture of the school to be a nice person, which means being respectful and friendly, even with people you don’t necessarily want to befriend,” he said. “That’s important because at Main Street, we have investments in 200 different small- and medium-sized businesses. They’re all over the United States and run by every conceivable type of men and women. You need to be able to get along with all of the different age groups and all of the different demographics and geographies.”

Main Street also places employees in supervision roles when they are in their twenties. “You need to work hard, be responsive and get along with your co-workers, and set a good example for the younger people,” Foster said. “That seems to be consistent with the attributes that Texas A&M tries to instill in their students — and I find this very unique among other universities, where I’ve spent a lot of time over the past 40 years.”


Foster’s decision to create the chair in Mays was inspired by another Aggie, Art French ’62, who was lead director when Main Street Capital went public in 2007 and remained active with the company into his eighties. “Texas A&M is a big part of Art’s life,” Foster explained. “Being around him and his network, it seemed natural to get involved in a way I was uniquely postured to do that others were not.”

Foster’s willingness to become more deeply involved and invested through the chair is part of the equation that is helping Mays’ drive to become the nation’s preeminent public business school in the United States. “Mays really has a big opportunity to make a material contribution to the progression of accounting through the large number of amazing students who make a big impact as professionals, along with the school’s commitment of resources to support faculty and PhD students who think deeply about accounting issues,” Ege said. “When you combine that all together with the Aggie Core Values, we’ll be able to make a big contribution to making sure the future a good one.”