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Austin and UT legend George Kozmetsky dies

George Kozmetsky, a legendary figure at The University of Texas and throughout the state, died this morning in Austin. He was 85.

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AUSTIN, Texas—George Kozmetsky, a legendary figure at The University of Texas and throughout the state, died this morning in Austin. He was 85.

A memorial service in celebration of Kozmetsky’s life will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 4, at the Frank C. Erwin Center. No funeral arrangements will be made. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the IC2 Institute, the George M. Kozmetsky Endowed Presidential Scholarship or the charity of your choice. Contributions to IC2 or the Kozmetsky scholarship can be mailed to 1 University Station, Mail Stop A3000, Austin, TX 78712.

Over his 16-year tenure as dean of The University of Texas at Austin College and Graduate School of Business (1966-1982), Kozmetsky brought significant improvements to almost every facet of the school, transforming it from a regional institution into a national powerhouse for research and graduate business education.

It was with great sadness that I learned today of the death of George Kozmetsky. He was one of the nation’s most insightful and visionary leaders in the worlds of higher education, business and new technologies. His keen intellectual talents and his drive for creativity and innovation were matched by his generous spirit. Throughout his illustrious career, he was able to see beyond the present horizon and to envision new ways of doing business, new techniques for industry, and new partnerships for a stronger economy and a more productive educational system. As a dean, an academic administrator, a business leader and a philanthropist, George Kozmetsky made a lasting mark on the University of Texas System and on the Texas economy. His insight, leadership and good humor will be sorely missed.

Mark G. Yudof, Chancellor
The University of Texas System

He recruited star-quality faculty, encouraged a cross-disciplinary approach to research and curriculum development, introduced technology into the curriculum and upgraded facilities through the construction of the Graduate School of Business building in 1976. Aside from his contributions to the stature and reputation of the Business School, Kozmetsky and his wife Ronya made personal financial contributions to the school and solicited significant endowments from others that helped propel the school into the national ranks. He changed the school’s culture permanently by creating an environment of overall academic excellence.

By the time Kozmetsky was tapped for the deanship at The University of Texas at Austin, he was already a successful businessman who had co-founded the technology company Teledyne in 1960 and had developed it into a Fortune 500 company within six years. He’d also been a highly respected professor at Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh.

Though he may be best known for his accomplishments in industry and business school administration, Kozmetsky first earned distinction for his work in academia, where he researched and taught with some of the leading business scholars of his era. He earned an MBA at Harvard University in 1947 and a Doctorate of Commercial Science in 1957. While working toward his doctoral degree, he joined a group of elite researchers that was revolutionizing management education with its visionary work, co-authoring two publications with renowned Professor Herbert Simon of the Carnegie Institute of Technology, including the highly influential Centralization vs. Decentralization in Organizing the Controller’s Department. Kozmetsky continued to be an active scholar throughout and following his deanship, publishing numerous books and articles on a wide range of subjects, from public policy issues to management science.

Dean Kozmetsky was a creative force of very rare power and quality, not only in this university but also in the business community worldwide. His institutional legacy here is extraordinary and his influence will be felt for generations; but, at a personal level, all who knew him will miss his generous spirit and his remarkable imagination.

Larry R. Faulkner, President
The University of Texas at Austin

During his deanship in 1977, George founded the IC2 Institute, a think tank charged with researching the intersection of business, government and education. It was Kozmetsky’s vision of the Technopolis, studied and written about by the fellows at IC2, that has largely shaped the development of Austin in the last two decades. In 1983, George and IC2 were enlisted in the collaborative effort to convince Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC) that Austin should be its home. The city, at Kozmetsky’s instigation, sold itself as not just what it was, but what it would become. A similar approach was used to attract 3M in 1984 and Sematech in 1988. Later, AMD, Motorola, Samsung and many others followed suit, fulfilling Kozmetsky’s vision of the Technopolis.

Kozmetsky is in a unique class of exceptional leaders whose success is reflected in the success of those they have influenced. He has mentored countless numbers of students and entrepreneurs over the decades, including Michael Dell, who said in an article about Kozmetsky being published in the McCombs School alumni magazine next month, “It was a stroke of great fortune to have Dr. Kozmetsky on our team. There’s no question that his guidance was instrumental in our early success and his affiliation gave us a measure of credibility that a new and unproven company could otherwise never have achieved.”

The McCombs School of Business and The University of Texas at Austin today mourn the loss of a great man who left an indelible mark on the institution. He will be forever remembered for his incredible vision, leadership and citizenship.

Signed: George Gau, Dean 2002-present; Robert May, Former Dean 1995-2002; Robert Witt, Former Dean 1985-1995; William Cunningham, Former Dean 1982-1985

Highlights from the career of George Kozmetsky

1917 – George Kozmetsky born to George and Nadya Kozmetsky, October 5
1937 – At age 20, graduated from the University of Washington
1941 – Enlisted in U.S. Army. Earned a Bronze Star, Silver Star and the Purple Heart
1943 – Married to Ronya on November 5
1947 – Earned an MBA from Harvard University
1957 – Earned Doctorate of Commercial Science from Harvard
1960 – Co-founded Teledyne
1966 – Appointed Dean of the UT College and Graduate School of Business; held position for 16 years
1977 – Founded IC2 Institute
1993 – Received National Medal of Technology Award from President Clinton

For more information contact: Pam Losefsky, McCombs School of Business, 512-471-3998.