Tag: Centennial

Bob Virgil was drafted in 1958 after graduating from Beloit College in Wisconsin. He was stationed at Ft. Leonard Wood and discovered St. Louis on weekends when he was on leave. Virgil had majored in English, but thought it might be a good idea to pursue a higher degree in business. That decision would forever change the direction of his life and begin his dedication to an institution that became known as the John M. Olin Business School.

In this video from our Centennial series, Dean Emeritus, Bob Virgil, tell his story of coming to Washington University in 1958.

Read more on the Olin100 website.

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Contrary to the size of the crowd at Olin’s Centennial Gala in April, not everyone in the Olin community could be in St. Louis for the celebration. So, Professor Kurt Dirks decided to take the celebration to his Executive MBA students in Mumbai.

Dirks, the Bank of America Professor of Leadership, packed a few extra centennial t-shirts in his bag when he traveled to India last week to teach Batch (class) 2 in the joint program with IIT-Bombay. “They are extremely proud of being Olin students,” Dirks reported. “They all showed up to class the next day wearing their Olin t-shirts! Very cool to experience.”

So, of course, they had to take a photo and share it on social media. Thanks, Batch 2 EMBAs for wearing your Olin pride on your sleeves, literally!!

Where have you been wearing your Olin100 t-shirt recently? Tweet us or share on Instagram or Facebook with #Olin100


It was a once-in-a-century celebration. From festivities feting the 2017 Distinguished Alumni and all previous honorees, to an explosion of fireworks on Mudd Field, Olin’s Centennial Celebration Gala was a night to remember. The evening began with the Distinguished Alumni Awards, where Dean Mark Taylor welcomed more than 700 guests and Olin Alumni Board President Alex Borchert served as Master of Ceremonies. Video tributes and introductions to each awardee were viewed before they accepted the Distinguished Alumni honor. Former Dean Mahendra Gupta and his wife Sunita Gharg received the Dean’s Medal. Chancellor Wrighton addressed the audience before the unveiling of a final video outlining Dean Taylor’s vision for Olin’s second century.

The celebration continued on all three levels of the Atrium, which had been transformed into an extraordinary event space by lights, candles, and a 12 foot by 40 foot digital wall displaying 100 years of history in words, video, and archival photos. Live music and food stations, serving everything from sushi to bangers and mash, were enjoyed by several generations of alumni, professors, staff, and friends of Olin.

Click image to expand. Photos by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

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“I’ve had a great career and I’ve enjoyed every year of it, every minute of it.” How many people can say that? Howard Wood, BSBA’47, started out as an accountant at Arthur Anderson…for 26 years. Then he wanted to see what it was like on “the other side of the desk” and partnered with fellow Olin alum Jerry Kent to manage a cable TV company called Cencom Cable Associates.

They sold Cencom to Hallmark Cards Inc. in 1991 for an estimated $1billion, bought it back from Hallmark in 1995, and renamed the company Charter Communications. Wood and Kent sold Charter to Paul Allen in 1998 for $4.5 billion, according to the St. Louis Business Journal.

Wood’s ventures in the cable and communications industry included more than $25 billion in acquisitions and launching startups which Wood says is not for everyone. “You can’t be too risk adverse,” he says about entrepreneurship, but adds he doesn’t think of himself as an entrepreneur. “I think we’ve been professional managers.”

Howard Wood, BSBA’61, grew up in Bonne Terre, Missouri, a farming community sixty miles from St. Louis. Both of his parents were school teachers and there was no question that he would go to college, but how to pay for it was a major obstacle. “We were as poor as church mice,” Wood says.

“Washington University was just like it is in these days.  It’s a very expensive place to attend given some of the alternatives.  And my first year’s tuition was $750.” That did not include room and board, Wood is quick to add. He will never forget the generosity of one man who made it possible for him to attend WashU.

“We had a gentleman in Bonne Terre by the name of Henry Day who owned a quarry in the county … St. Francois County where I grew up.  And he offered a full scholarship each year to Washington University.  I was on that scholarship as was my brother.  And we were the only two that ever graduated on it.  So it was kind of an unusual situation, but it was a very nice scholarship, and he was a Harvard graduate. But that’s how I got to Washington University; otherwise I would never have been able to attend.”

Wood was considered “an out-of-town student” when the majority of students lived within the metropolitan area and could take the streetcar to school. “There were very few dorm rooms, practically none,” Wood recalls. “The fraternities had most of the rooms for the men.  There was no South 40. They didn’t have sleeping rooms in the sororities.  So it was a little bit different back in 1957.”

Howard Wood had a successful career at Arthur Anderson before partnering with Olin alumnus Jerry Kent to launch Charter Cable. He has been a generous supporter of the Scholars in Business program and talks about the importance of scholarships in another video in this series.

Link to more Olin history on the Centennial website.


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