Rockhurst University to Recognize Former DST Systems Executives For Business And Community Leadership

Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Tom McCullough and Tom McDonnell

Rockhurst University will honor two of Kansas City’s outstanding business and civic leaders with the annual Rashford-Lyon Award for Leadership and Ethics, part of the seventh annual Rockhurst University Leadership Series luncheon, featuring Hall of Fame NFL quarterback Joe Montana, on March 26, 2019.

Rockhurst alumni Tom McDonnell, ’66, and Tom McCullough, ’64, together helped build Kansas City-based DST Systems into one of the largest and most forward-looking mutual fund servicing firms in the nation.

In the 1960s, McDonnell was part of a three-person team charged by Kansas City Southern to establish a spinoff venture founded on the then-emerging field of computer data processing. Utilizing a sense of entrepreneurial know-how and innovative thinking, McDonnell and his team quickly set the pace for technology-assisted financial services. Under his guidance, DST Systems forged strategic partnerships and joint ventures, emerging as a dominant force in the industry. He retired from the company in 2012 after 40 years of service as an executive.

McCullough joined DST in 1987, serving as executive vice president and chief operating officer during his tenure before retiring in 2009. In his role, he oversaw mutual fund shareholder full-service processing, mutual fund support for remote mutual fund clients, information systems and advanced technology, data center services, sales and marketing and the Automated Work Distributor workflow management product. Prior to his arrival at DST, McCullough was President and CEO of Garnac Grain Company.  Prior to this position he was a partner in the consulting practice at Arthur Young (now Ernst & Young).

Together, McCullough and McDonnell were a potent team, admitting they complement each other with differing styles.

“Tom is very caring about the people, very thoughtful and very disciplined in his approach to things,” McDonnell said of his longtime coworker. “His style was always concerned about the development of the people.”

McDonnell, on the other hand, brought to the table incredible insight into where the company should be heading.

“DST got to where it’s at because Tom had the foresight to ask where we want to be in the future,” McCullough said. “That’s not something that you always think of when you’re managing the day-to-day.”

As managers, both helped create a culture of philanthropy at DST, encouraging employees to get involved in community efforts and organizations and taking leadership positions themselves at organizations such as the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, Carondelet Health, Boy Scouts, and the Catholic Central City Schools of Kansas City Missouri.

According to McCullough, the experience at Rockhurst University played a role in both their success in growing DST and the emphasis they placed on giving back.

“I’ve always felt that Rockhurst taught me how to learn. In a business that’s growing, that’s an important thing,” he said. “But at Rockhurst, you also learned to give back — it was a philosophy that was important as part of the education.”

The Rashford-Lyon Award is named for two influential leaders in Rockhurst University’s Helzberg School of Management ­—­­ the late Tom Lyon, Ph.D., and the Rev. Nick Rashford, S.J. — and was established in 2014. Previous recipients include Jane Chu, ’05 EMBA, former chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts and current arts advisor for PBS; Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James, ’80; and former Rockhurst University professor of English Patricia Cleary Miller, Ph.D.

The 2019 Rockhurst University Leadership Series, featuring keynote speaker Joe Montana, is scheduled for Tuesday, March 26, at the Marriott Muehlebach Tower, 1213 Wyandotte St., Kansas City, Missouri. Individual tickets are on sale now. For more information regarding pricing and availability, contact Amy Reardon, assistant director of foundations and corporate relations, at 816-501-5474 or at