The 20 Most Notable University of Michigan Alumni in the Business World

The University of Michigan is a prestigious institution of higher learning that is located in Ann Arbor Michigan. The school has a rich history with the founding of its initial setting in 1917 in Detroit, and the name of the college at that time was the University of Michigan. It was established two decades prior to Michigan’s admission into the United States as a recognized state instead of a territory. The acceptance rate is just 26 percent of the applicants and they have a remarkably high graduation rate of 91 percent, showing that it’s a serious school for people who are intent on accomplishing their educational goals. Some of the most successful people in the business world graduated from the University of Michigan and here are the 20 most noteworthy alumni.

1. Leo Burnett

Mr. Burnett was a member of the graduating class of 1914, receiving his bachelor’s degree. He’s an interesting character in the history of the business world, carving out a career in journalism for himself after graduation. He is also known as a pioneer in the field of advertising. He borrowed $50,000 to establish his own business called the Leo Burnett Company in 1935. Since then, the advertising agency as given their help to some of the most well-known brand in the world including Coors, Pfizer, General Motors, Coca Cola and many more.

2. Dave Barger

David Barger is an alumni of the University of Michigan who went on to enjoy a lucrative and successful career in business. In 1998, he co-founded the Jet Blue Airways Corporation and from 2007 through 2015, he was the President and until 2007, was the Chief Operating Officer. He also worked for Continental Airlines prior to that as their Vice President, as well as a variety of directorship positions.

3. Bruce Wasserstein

Bruce Wasserstein enrolled in classes at the University of Michigan when he was just 16 years old. He earned his bachelors degree and went on to attend Harvard University where he earned his MBA and his JD. He became a Nader’s Raiders while still in graduate school, then went on to study at the University of Cambridge in corporate mergers and acquisitions. He entered the field of mergers and acquisitions at First Boston, then founded a private equity firm with his partner Perella, called Wasserstein Perrella. He became the CEO of Robert W. Baird, a company which he acquired and the firm went public after he took the helm. He also owns a major share of New York magazine.

4. Temel Kotil

Temel Kotil is another notable alumni of the University of Michigan. He earned his MA from the institution in 1986, and a second master’s in 1987. He continued on with his education to receive his PhD in 1991. Mr. Kotil has had a very successful career in the commercial airlines business, in executive leadership. He is currently the Chief Operating Officer of Turkish Airlines.

5. C. Robert Kidder

C. Robert Kidder earned his BS degree from the University of Michigan in 1967. He established a successful career in executive management becoming the chief executive officer for the Borden Chemical company in 1995 and he served in the position through 2002. After that he moved on to become the principal of Stonehenge Partners, Inc., and in 2009, he was appointed as the chairman of the Chrysler Group, LLC. He also served as Morgan Stanley’s lead director as well as a post with 3Stone Advisors of Columbus, Ohio.

6. Scott Seligman

Scott Seligman is an alumni of the University of Michigan who enjoyed a career as a real estate developer early in his career. This was just one of many other successful business ventures. He founded the Sterling Bank and Trust, which is his most widely recognized accomplishment in the business world. In addition to this, he is a part owner of the San Francisco Giants, with a minority stake in the team.

7. Ralph Bahna

Ralph Bahna earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1964. He put his education to good use and worked his way into executive leadership in the cruise ship industry. He served as the Cunard Line’s CEO from 1980 through 1980. In 2004, he founded Club Quarters and also became the chairman of Priceline.com.

8. Henry Engelhardt

Henry Englehardt earned his bachelors degree from the University of Michigan. He founded the British motor insurance company called the Admiral Group. He also served as the CEO of the company. He has since stepped down but he made a fortune in the insurance industry and he is now known as the British billionaire.

9. James P. Hoffa Jr.

James P. Hoffa Jr., son of Jimmy Hoffa Sr., earned his law degree from the University of Michigan’s law school in 1996. He went on to follow in the footsteps of his famous father. His father was well known for his service to the union and his mysterious disappearance remained a mystery for decades. He was presumed to be the victim of mob violence. News stories about the Jimmy Hoffa case circulated for years as well as multiple investigations and theories about the case. In 1999, he became the International Brotherhood of Teamsters’ general president. His father was the former general president of the union.

10. Frederic L. Smith

Frederic L. Smith graduated from the University of Michigan in 1890. He is a historical figure in the automobile industry. In 1899 he co-founded the Olds Motor Works. This was just the beginning of what would be a long and successful career in auto manufacturing. In 1908, he co-founded the General Motors Corporation.

11. Larry Page

Larry Page attended the University of Michigan and received his BSE degree in 1995. He is the co-founder of Google, and served as its CEO and a member of the board of directors. He also made some wise investments in a variety of companies including Kitty Hawk, Logo of Planetary Resources, and Tesla.

12. Charles Edward Merrill

Charles Edward Merrill was an alumni of Michigan who attended from 1906 though 1907, but he did not complete his education. He went on to have a very successful career in investment. He was the co-founder of Merrill Lynch. Mr. Merrill is best known for his business acumen and his ability to lead the company forward through very tumultuous times when the economy was in a perilous state from a financial perspective.

13. Preston Robert (Bob) Tisch

Bob Tisch earned his AB degree from the University of Michigan in 1948. He went on to become the chairman of the Loews Corporation as well as a half owner of the New York Giants, but he later sold his interest in the team. He also served as the US Postmaster General from 1986 through 1988. His wife was also a successful University of Michigan alumni.

14. Robert Beverley Evans

He attended the UofM in the 1920s and went on to become the vice president of the Evans Products Company in Detroit, serving as the vice president from 1937 through 1962. He was also the M-B Corporation proprietor and was a founder of Evans Industries as well as the chairman of the American Motors Corporation, which he is best known for. Mr. Evans was an entrepreneur who was astute in the development of new businesses and he was one of the pioneers in the industry when it was still in the stages of its infancy.

15. J. Robert Beyster

J. Robert Beyster attended the University of Michigan earning his BSE degree, a master’s of science and a PhD. He went on to establish a successful career in the business world. He served as the CEO, president and chairman of Science Applications International Corporation.

16. Bobby Kotick

Bobby Kotick is another notable alumni of the University of Michigan. He went on after earning his degree to become a highly successful executive in the business world. He is currently the president as well as the Chief Executive Officer of the Activision Blizzard company, which is an S&P 500 company. Bobby also serves on a number of boards including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Coca-Cola Company, the Harvard Westlake School and the Center for Early Education. He established a veterans charity called the Call of Duty Endowment and also serves as the co-chairman.

17. Charlie Munger

Charlie Munger is another famous alumni of the University of Michigan who went off to establish a highly successful career in executive leadership. He became the vice chairman for Berkshire Hathaway. Mr. Munger is a very wealthy and generous business man who donated more than $25 million for renovations to the lawyers club and the library for the University along with well over $100 million for graduate fellowships and housing. Mr.. Munger also serves as the Wesco Financial Chairman. He comes from Omaha, Nebraska, as does his business partner, Mr. Warren Buffett. Munger is known as a guru in the business world. After studying mathematics at Michigan, he became a meteorologist and joined the army. He also gained acceptance into Harvard University even though he didn’t have an undergraduate degree. He’s known as an expert in solving critical business issues.

18. Tom S. Monaghan

Tom S. Monaghan is also an alumni of the University of Michigan who has been successful in the business world. After his time at Michigan, he founded the Domino’s Pizza chain. His business became a phenomenal success with hundreds of outlets throughout the United States. He sold the business after it became a raging success. Tom has a remarkable history. He and his brother were placed in an orphanage at an early age because their mother was unable to support them after the death of their father. When she got on her feet and was able to give them a proper home, she took the boys back home and raised them until they became adults.

19. Henry W. Bloch

Henry W. Bloch attended the University of Michigan and he earned his bachelor’s of science degree in 1944. According to an article that was published in the New York Times to honor his memory, Mr. Bloch was the co-founder of the nation wide tax service H&R Block, Inc. He also served as the president of the company he established prior to his retirement. Although he passed away, his legacy lives on and his company has become the premiere tax preparation service in the United States, serving millions of customers with personal and tax preparation services each year.

20. Dean Drako

Dean Drako is a remarkable former student of the University of Michigan. He is known as a “serial entrepreneur” because of his tremendous gift for starting up new companies. He has five businesses to his credit, most notably, Barracuda Networks. He is not only the founder, he is also the CEO and the president.


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