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An Education that Truly Changes Your Life

Fifty years after their graduation, a group from the class of 1963 gathered at the Tepper School and talked about their education and how it has influenced their lives.

Fifty years after their graduation, a group from the class of 1963 gathered at the Tepper School and talked about their education and how it has influenced their lives.

At the time they graduated, the Tepper School’s pioneering approach to management and business education, which focuses on creating new models and utilizing data to make informed business decisions, was still in its formative years. Early students knew they were getting into something unusual but perhaps did not appreciate how much it might affect them.

There was camaraderie among students and between students and teachers, said J. Thomas Presby. “We were a small group, we knew each other well, we felt closely connected to the faculty. This was a life-changing experience for me – transformative.”

“I came here after eighteen months in the army and I was in a physical, intellectual, social, spiritual desert, “ said Paul F. Anderson. “Coming here to the school, it just opened me up as a person. I think I recognized that this was a special place at that point in time.” 

For Jerome E. Schnee, the school’s rigor helped him develop a mental toughness, a new way of thinking. “This experience of the two-way dialogue and being put on the spot to really justify your answer or your assumptions was an intimidating experience at the outset. You quickly realized you’d better come prepared; you’d better be able to support your assumptions. It was just a very stimulating experience.”

Theodore Rojahn initially looked at the school because he liked operations research. He decided to apply to the economics program. Then he discovered finance. That was a light bulb – and a career. “Like many people said, it was a transformation. I came in with one idea, picked some other ideas and changed my life.”

Although close-knit during their school years, life and their careers inevitably put time and distance between them. But not so much, as it turned out – again something about the school and the people it attracts.

“The neat thing about here is – last night we got together and were talking, and it was like one year rather than fifty years after we had graduated because we all knew each other, there was a good deal of trust among each other, and it came out very clearly,” said Cyrus Freidheim.

Robert Shaw noted that when catching up, he was happy to learn most found success, although maybe not how they might have expected. “Our paths have taken us very different ways, including ups and downs, but everybody has just had a wonderfully fulfilling career within their company as well as with community service. The thing that stuck me the most was comments on family.”

Listening to the alumni, it was clear they had experienced something powerful while at the Tepper School. They called it transformative, life-changing and deeply fulfilling, but they also reached for something more elusive.

Teachers “were talking to us about how to survive in organizations, how organizations worked … how to live and how to think,” said Anderson. “I felt very well equipped analytically, but there was a lot more here than that.”

Added David Ahl, “It’s a vision and values and integrity that you’ve just got to maintain throughout your entire career. Yes, the specifics that you learn are important, but that’s changing.

“Keeping that vision and integrity and your values - keeping things in perspective, that’s what carries you on through life.”

In respect for the positive impact that their studies at Carnegie Mellon/GSIA had on their lives and careers, eleven members of the class of 1963 have pledged $100,000 to create an endowed fellowship that will benefit future generations of students.