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Henry W. McGee

Broadcast executive Henry W. McGee was born on January 22, 1953 in Chicago, Illinois to Henry McGee Jr. and Catherine Williams. At the age of sixteen, McGee moved with his father to Los Angeles, California, and attended Palisades High School in Pacific Palisades, California until his junior year when he received early admission to Harvard University. McGee earned his B.A. degree in social studies magna cum laude in 1974. Later he received his M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School in 1979.

McGee worked as a writer for Newsweek from 1974 to 1977 in New York and Washington D.C. After he obtained his M.B.A. degree, he was hired as a manager of film acquisition for Home Box Office (HBO), which was then a new venture at Time, Inc. McGee went on to serve as director of program acquisition for Time-Life Films from 1980 to 1981, director of Cinemax Program Planning and HBO Family Programming from 1981 to 1983, director of HBO Enterprises from 1983 to 1985, vice president of home video from 1985 to 1988, and senior vice president of programming for HBO Video from 1988 to 1995. In March of 1995, McGee was promoted to president of HBO Home Entertainment. Under his leadership, HBO became the leading force in the TV-to-DVD industry and a pioneer in using the Internet for marketing and sales. After retiring from HBO in 2013, McGee joined the faculty of Harvard Business School as a senior lecturer.

In 2004, McGee was elected to the board of AmerisourceBergen, the global pharmaceutical services company, and in 2017 was named chairman of the company’s Governance and Nominating Committee. In 2015, he joined the board of TEGNA, Inc., a broadcast and digital media company that owns the largest number of affiliates of the NBC television network. McGee also served on several nonprofit boards, including as director of the Black Filmmaker Foundation board since 1985, and the Pew Research Center board since 2014. He also served as director and president of the Film Society of Lincoln Center board, and the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater Foundation board. He served as a director of the boards of the Save the Children Fund, the Time Warner Foundation, Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Sundance Institute. Additionally, McGee served on the advisory board of Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research.

McGee was inducted into Variety’s Home Entertainment Hall of Fame, and the National Association of Minorities in Communication Hall of Fame. He also received the Professional Achievement Award from the Harvard Business School African American Alumni Association, and was named by Black Enterprise as one of the “50 Most Powerful African Americans in the Entertainment Business.” In 2018 the National Association of Corporate Directors named McGee one of the 100 most influential people in the boardroom community.

McGee and his wife, Celia, have one daughter, Honor.

Henry W. McGee was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 22, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.025

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/22/2016

Last Name

McGee

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Wadsworth

Schools

Washington Dual Language Academy

Alain L Locke Elementary School

Horace Mann School

Palisades Charter High School

Harvard University

Harvard Business School

Tolleston Middle School

First Name

Henry

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

MCG08

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Paris, France

Favorite Quote

If You Don't Know Where You Are Going Any Road Will Get You There.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

1/22/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Grilled Chicken

Short Description

Broadcast executive Henry W. McGee (1953 - ) worked at HBO Home Entertainment for over thirty-five years, where he served as president from 1995 to 2014. He then became a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School.

Employment

Harvard Business School

HBO Home Entertainment

HBO Video

HBO

HBO Enterprises

Cinemax Program Planning and HBO Family Programming

Time-Life Films

Newsweek

GE Asset Management

Favorite Color

Navy Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Henry W. McGee's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Henry W. McGee lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Henry W. McGee describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Henry W. McGee talks about his mother's light complexion

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Henry W. McGee describes his paternal grandfather's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Henry W. McGee describes his paternal grandfather's career at the post office

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Henry W. McGee describes his paternal family's emphasis on education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Henry W. McGee describes his father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Henry W. McGee describes his paternal grandfather's civil rights work

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Henry W. McGee describes his father's work for the Legal Services Program

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Henry W. McGee remembers his parents' divorce, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Henry W. McGee describes his father's career in higher education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Henry W. McGee remembers moving to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Henry W. McGee describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Henry W. McGee remembers his parents' divorce, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Henry W. McGee remembers living with his maternal family in Maywood, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Henry W. McGee remembers the community of Maywood, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Henry W. McGee remembers moving to Gary, Indiana

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Henry W. McGee describes his neighborhood in Gary, Indiana

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Henry W. McGee remembers school desegregation in Gary, Indiana

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Henry W. McGee remembers attending a summer program at the Mount Hermon School for Boys in Northfield, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Henry W. McGee recalls his early admission to Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Henry W. McGee remembers his aspiration to become a journalist

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Henry W. McGee recalls his summer internships at Newsweek magazine

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Henry W. McGee remembers the black student community at Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Henry W. McGee recalls his parents' reaction to his admission to Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Henry W. McGee remembers joining the staff of Newsweek magazine

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Henry W. McGee remembers working for Newsweek in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Henry W. McGee recalls his decision to attend Harvard Business School

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Henry W. McGee recalls being offered a position at Time Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Henry W. McGee recalls his decision to work at Home Box Office

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Henry W. McGee describes the original business model of Home Box Office

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Henry W. McGee describes his role at Home Box Office, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Henry W. McGee describes his role at Home Box Office, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Henry W. McGee talks about the early home movie industry

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Henry W. McGee recalls the impact of DVDs on the home entertainment industry

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Henry W. McGee remembers the introduction of original programming on Home Box Office

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Henry W. McGee talks about Home Box Office's original series

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Henry W. McGee describes Home Box Office's corporate history

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Henry W. McGee remembers his presidency of Home Box Office

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Henry W. McGee describes Home Box Office's international expansion

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Henry W. McGee remembers designing a business ethics curriculum

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Henry W. McGee remembers becoming a full time instructor at the Harvard Business School

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Henry W. McGee reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Henry W. McGee shares his advice to aspiring film industry professionals

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Henry W. McGee reflects upon his life and organizational activities

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Henry W. McGee narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$3

DAStory

6$5

DATitle
Henry W. McGee describes his role at Home Box Office, pt. 1
Henry W. McGee remembers his aspiration to become a journalist
Transcript
As one of these nine M.B.A.'s who comes in to share your wisdom, what are you all doing? What, what's happening (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Well, different, different things. Well so, so again this was the advantage, I joined HBO [Home Box Office] when it had fewer than 3 million subscribers. It was a single network that wasn't on twenty-four hours a day. Our--the technology at the time was so crude that our affiliates in Hawaii and Puerto Rico couldn't receive the satellite signal. And we used to have to package up the movies on large cassettes, ship them to them, and they originate HBO locally. And as I said fast, original programming really wasn't on the, the map. Flash forward to today, HBO is a global network with well over a hundred million subscribers. The majority of which by the way are outside the U.S., and is as evidenced by Sunday's Emmy Awards is the most important force in originally scripted programming in the telv- in, in the television industry. So all that hap- all that was to come, but when I showed up, it was all about movies. They had all these M.B.A.'s and they sort of sorted them out into different, different jobs. And because I had been a, a writer, they felt that I could sort of talk, talk with the crazies if you will, out in, in Hollywood. And because I had the, the M.B.A. I could presumably negotiate with them, so I was given a job for which I was wholly unqualified. Which was negotiating the rights to independently produced films and foreign language films for exhibition on this service that wasn't even on twenty-four hours, twenty-four hours a day. Show, again, shows you how old, long ago HBO even no longer shows foreign language films on its main show, it's got other, you know. So this was an unbelievable opportunity for me.$$And you're about how old now?$$I was probably twenty-seven or so. Time Inc. is a very wealthy company, everything always had to be done top drawer. So at twenty-seven I was essentially given a credit card and unlimited amount of first class tickets. And told that I had to stay at the Beverly Hills Hotel [Beverly Hills, California] and correctly represent the company. And buy as many independent and foreign language films as, as I could. So that was also at the beginning of the birth of the American independent film business. So to have that sort of checkbook and power--yeah pay television was a very important sort of financing stream--put me at the beginning of that movement.$When you were applying to Harvard [Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts], did you have a sense of what you wanted to do with your life, what work you wanted to pursue?$$(Pause) No, I suspect that in my early days, because my father [Henry W. McGee, Jr.] was a gr- was a great role model for me, that I would probably--and this would of course made my grandparents [Attye Belle Truesdale McGee and Henry W. McGee, Sr.] happy--that I would become a, a lawyer. And sort of keep in the family tradition of, of, of public service in one way or another. What evolved over those years as a freshman in college, because I al- had always been interested in writing. And I was vaguely aware of my father's foray and brief foray into journalism; I joined the student daily, The Harvard, The Harvard Crimson. And in that group I dev- quickly developed my some of my closest friends even to this, this day, met my wife [Celia Betsky McGee] on the paper. In that the, the involvement in The Harvard Crimson was a, so central part of my college experience and shaped my decision early in the, early on there to become a journalist. Now there was some extern- couple of external factors there, one is in the early--we're just coming off the era of the Pentagon Papers. Early Watergate--well sort of in the middle of Watergate report, right before it. And being a journalist was, if you wanna do public service, that was one of the highest callings you could have. My father who regrettably had his journal- journalistic ambitions thwarted, was quite encouraging.

Arlie Petters

Mathematician, physicist and business professor Arlie Petters was born on February 8, 1964 in Dangriga, Belize. As a child, he lived with his grandparents and was captivated by the mystery of the skies. In 1979, Petters left Belize to live with his mother in the United States. After graduating from Canarsie High School in Brooklyn, New York, Petters enrolled at Hunter College. Family problems left Petters homeless, but he received a Minority Access to Research Careers Fellowship that allowed him to stay in school. In 1986, Petters graduated from Hunter College with his B.A/M.A. interdisciplinary degree in mathematics and physics. He continued his studies with a dual concentration in mathematics and physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), earning his Ph.D. degree in 1991. His doctoral thesis was entitled “Singularities in Gravitational Microlensing." During the summers of 1986 to 1991, Petters worked as a Corporate Research Fellowship Program (CRFP) Fellow at Bell Laboratories.

Following graduation, Petters became an instructor of pure mathematics at MIT. In 1993, Petters joined the faculty of Princeton University as an assistant professor of mathematics. He served as the co-director of graduate studies in mathematics from 1996 to 1998. Petters left Princeton in 1998 to join the faculty of Duke University as the William and Sue Gross Associate Professor. Petters was the lead author of the book, Singularity Theory and Gravitational Lensing in 2001, which outlined the first single mathematical theory to explain gravitational lensing. He became a full professor in 2003 and was the first African American at Duke University to receive tenure in the mathematics department. In 2005, Petters founded the Petters Research Institute to train Belizean students in the STEM disciplines. In 2008, he received a triple appointment to the departments of mathematics, physics and business administration, and in 2009, he was awarded the Benjamin Powell endowed chair. In 2010, Petters was appointed to serve as chairman on the Council of Science Advisors to the Prime Minister of Belize.
He also served as visiting professor at the Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik, Oxford University, Harvard University, Princeton University and was a Martin Luther King Jr. visiting professor of physics at MIT.

Petters has received numerous awards including the Sloan Research Fellowship and the National Science Foundation Early Career Grant Award. He was the first recipient of the Blackwell-Tapia Prize in Mathematical Science. He also received much recognition for his philanthropic efforts in Belize including the Award for Service to the Educational Development of Belize from the Friends in Support of the Diocese in Belize. Petters was also named by the Queen of England to Membership in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Petters served on the Board of Governors for the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications and on the Board of Trustees for the Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics. He is a member of the American Mathematical Society, American Astronomical Society and the Royal Astronomical Society. Petters lives with his wife Elizabeth Petters in Durham, North Carolina.

Arlie Petters was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 21, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.050

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/21/2012

Last Name

Petters

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

O

Schools

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Hunter College

Canarsie High School

Ecumenical High School

Epworth Methodist School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Arlie

Birth City, State, Country

Dangriga

HM ID

PET08

Favorite Season

Easter

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

Favorite Vacation Destination

Belize

Favorite Quote

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

2/8/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Durham

Country

Belize

Favorite Food

Belizian Food

Short Description

Business professor, mathematician, and physicist Arlie Petters (1964 - ) is a foremost scholar on gravitational lensing and has served as chairman on the Council of Science Advisors to the Prime Minister of Belize since 2010.

Employment

Council of Science Advisors to the Prime Minister of Belize

Duke University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Petters Research Institute

Princeton University

Bell Laboratories

Harvard University

Oxford University

Max-Plank -Institut fur Astrophysik

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Aquamarine

Timing Pairs
0,0:8248,102:9205,122:9640,129:11815,161:14077,189:16252,216:20630,221:20902,226:21310,233:22580,241:22796,246:23120,253:23660,265:24470,282:27548,312:28276,322:30005,339:34250,366:35212,385:39344,429:40010,440:40380,446:44154,493:44598,501:45264,513:45930,531:46448,539:55360,624:55700,630:56108,637:59690,676:60284,686:63830,718:64390,727:64670,732:66000,756:73924,875:74304,881:76508,924:77800,947:79016,962:87472,1019:89932,1056:90342,1062:91080,1070:91572,1079:91900,1084:96896,1113:99794,1173:100553,1187:100829,1192:102278,1210:104762,1249:105038,1254:106694,1282:115682,1341:116204,1348:116639,1355:117161,1362:120718,1394:121250,1403:125126,1470:126874,1501:131974,1560:132309,1566:133113,1584:133381,1589:133716,1595:139010,1677:139285,1684:140055,1704:144570,1743:145811,1764:146103,1769:147198,1784:147709,1792:148512,1807:152381,1868:153038,1879:153622,1889:156177,1929:160050,1934:161342,1955:162820,1965:163440,1979:163688,1984:165362,2017:165672,2023:166602,2037:177880,2205:179076,2232:179628,2239:184008,2268:186000,2300:194453,2388:195246,2405:206454,2490:207138,2507:207898,2519:208810,2534:209266,2541:213368,2572:213763,2579:215264,2608:215580,2613:216291,2620:223720,2670:225448,2708:225768,2714:226152,2721:227176,2738:227624,2747:231220,2776:232155,2799:232495,2804:234365,2821:238520,2849:239240,2858:239690,2864:245370,2899$0,0:4942,56:14614,209:29616,343:35940,408:36770,421:37600,434:37932,439:38264,444:39924,464:42348,476:42684,481:43272,490:44868,517:45624,527:46464,539:47052,547:48144,566:51504,610:56348,634:56866,642:57384,650:61592,670:65204,726:66064,737:66666,746:67182,753:71052,806:71912,818:76452,833:76988,843:77256,848:77993,861:78328,867:78998,879:79601,889:80338,902:80740,910:81611,924:87611,990:87887,995:88163,1000:89267,1019:91613,1066:91889,1071:94925,1131:95201,1136:97478,1168:103472,1215:104011,1224:104627,1233:106244,1265:109401,1317:110248,1329:111095,1343:111634,1352:112327,1362:112866,1370:118234,1408:130130,1592:130930,1605:135220,1629:136564,1646:137404,1658:139252,1733:142995,1760:150924,1845:153024,1875:153444,1881:154536,1898:155964,1918:157728,1955:161256,1997:165770,2006:166546,2016:167516,2028:170664,2062:171273,2070:171708,2079:172230,2086:172839,2100:175394,2113:176447,2123:179555,2132:180505,2144:185640,2183:186240,2190:186940,2198:187340,2203:187840,2209:188340,2215:188840,2221:196389,2280:196827,2288:197484,2298:202210,2363:205430,2400:209106,2445:209354,2450:209974,2461:210346,2468:214240,2511:214520,2516:214940,2523:216200,2551:216690,2560:217600,2579:218020,2587:220470,2638:223620,2713:230266,2784:233906,2833:240356,2884:241778,2910:242568,2923:245017,2956:246044,2971:248730,3015:253148,3036:253756,3048:254212,3055:260102,3123:265604,3170:270507,3220:270823,3225:271297,3233:272087,3246:275588,3262:276080,3270:276490,3276:276982,3284:277392,3290:278048,3299:278786,3313:281738,3349:282066,3354:282476,3360:283624,3377:284198,3386:284854,3400:286658,3425:291188,3448:291416,3454:294320,3476
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Arlie Petters' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters talks about his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters describes his biological father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters talks about his stepfather, Cecil Petters

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Arlie Petters describes his grandmother, Bernice Waight

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters talks about how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters talks about his mother's immigration to the United States

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters recalls his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters talks about his childhood neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Arlie Petters describes the sights, smells, and sounds of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Arlie Petters talks about the interactions between Garifunas and Creoles in Dangriga

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Arlie Petters talks about the culture of Dangriga, Belize

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Arlie Petters talks about radio and television during his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters describes his curious and pensive nature as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters talks about Chinese culture in Belize

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters talks about his early education and the mentors that fostered his curiosity

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters reflects on the psychological effects of racism on African Americans

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters shares his first impressions of the United States

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Arlie Petters talks about his experience at Canarsie High School in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Arlie Petters talks about his decision to become a scientist

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters talks about his experience at Hunter College

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters talks about Einsten's theory of relativity

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters describes his difficult relationship with his stepfather and his Minority Access to Research Careers Scholarship

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters talks about the healing of his family relationships

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters talks about his doctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Arlie Petters discusses his research on the mathematical theory of gravitational lensing

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters talks about the applications of math for physics, astronomy, and business

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters discusses his mathematical theory of shadow patterns in the universe

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters talks about his work at Princeton University, Oxford University, and the Max Planck Institute

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters talks about his move to Duke University

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters talks about his book, Singularity Theory and Gravitational Lensing

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Arlie Petters reflects on the finite nature of human knowledge

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Arlie Petters contrasts science education in the United States and in Belize

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Arlie Petters discusses his research on how black holes affect light

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters talks about his desire to see more minorities pursue advanced degrees in mathematics

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters talks about being awarded the Blackwell Tapia Prize

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters talks about achieving the status of a full professor

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters talks about the Petters Research Institute

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters reflects on being inducted into the National Academy of Arts and Sciences Portrait Gallery

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Arlie Petters talks about his work with the Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Arlie Petters talks about being featured on 'Nova'

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Arlie Petters talks about honors he has received

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Arlie Petters talks about his research on the optics of black holes

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Arlie Petters describes his work in finance

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Arlie Petters talks about Arlie Petters Street in Belize

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Arlie Petters discusses his work to strengthen the economy of Brazil using science

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters talks about his awards

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters talks about his students

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters discusses the future of gravitational lensing and astronomy

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters shares his concerns about the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Arlie Petters talks about his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Arlie Petters reflects on his life

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Arlie Petters talks about his hobbies and interests

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Arlie Petters talks about his faith

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Arlie Petters talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Arlie Petters describes his photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

1$5

DATitle
Arlie Petters talks about his decision to become a scientist
Arlie Petters talks about the Petters Research Institute
Transcript
Okay, all right so, okay now so what pushed you over the edge into science instead of art, or did you still kind of think well I could do both, be both?$$Well I would say the, the roots of that go back to Belize and this high school teacher that really brought the different fields together. I'd began noticing that it's also an artistic dimension to mathematics. That the way these equations balance, there's a beauty and the feelings I began having from looking deeper into mathematics as well as some of the ideas, you know I started learning about Newton's theory of gravity, then I heard the name Einstein and all of these things that nature has a sort of mathematical structure that was beautiful. And so the feelings that gave me were similar to feelings I was getting when I did art and even feelings I got when I listened to music. I used to love ABBA, right in those days as a kid. And of course you know you also have the, the--we call it macovi music that would come from Al Green, you know and all of these singers, artists, you know and these guys of that, of that time. But for me it was the feeling I got if I listened to an Otis Redding song, or the feeling I got from doing art, or the feeling now, the new part that you get from looking at all mathematical equations balance. There was not an arbitrariness. So my mother made a remark that I think was defining. She said you know you could be an artist if you want, it's your choice, but you probably will have a hard time making a living doing that. And I had witnessed enough of these artists trying to sell their work during the summers in New York. I said but if you go into science you could make a good living and you could still do art on the side. Given that I had this--the same feelings I was getting from art I was getting in mathematics and my physics classes, I didn't feel like I was giving up something totally. So it was a natural flow that the passion can continue, right, in the hard sciences and mathematics. And I think that was what really nailed it for me.$$And that's something I haven't experienced in life yet. I, I used to do art but, but failed before math. I've heard mathematicians describe equations as elegant.$$Yes that's right. There's an aesthetic balance to it. And you'll find that the way it flows, it's like you're looking at a masterpiece. And that I think was what was able to fuel my passion for the subject.$$Okay, okay. Our friend Matthew Hickey always says that math is the language of physics.$$Yes, that's right, exactly. And the thing that I would say, you know as I got more mature intellectually, the profound mysteries, why is it that nature at its core, at least how human beings describe nature, that you need mathematics. That is a great mystery, right. That these underlying equations governing how the physical world works and they're beautiful. Yeah.$And in 2005, that's when you actually found the Petters Research Institute in Belize.$$In Belize, that's right.$$And were you, did you propose the idea to the Belizean's government or did they--did someone in Belize propose the idea to you, or--$$Well I'll tell you how the, the origin of this effort. I was involved in a worldwide effort in Africa to set up a new university in Africa. The motivation was what can one really do to help turn around [unclear] in Africa. We know that all kinds of efforts have been going on, billions of dollars spent. And so the idea was to instead try and use science and technology as a tool to address poverty alleviation. So we were involved in this and I'm looking at the, you know, phenomenal ideas of things that would to me empower communities to really raise standard of living and for people to take ownership of their country and help with building the kind of technological infrastructure you need for this new century. And said I need to take this concept to Belize, right I was involved in all the blueprints, so this intellectual blueprint of setting this thing up. And I saw that aspects of it Belize can surely benefit from. And so that was really the seed that was involved with the Institute, and then of course the government was very happy because we are politically neutral and I have had excellent support from them ever since.$$Okay there's a picture here, it's a beautiful building.$$Yeah, yah.$$And what, what, what are the--what kind of programs do you all run and how many children are involved?$$So the way we do it is we think of the Institute as a catalyst that would drive science and technology, STEM [Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics] fields, really, innovation, but we want to tie it to national development in very practical ways because science in the U.S. is not particularly--you can't just assume it's relevant in Belize, right. You don't want to do nuclear physics in Belize you know. So we try to touch on issues in science and technology that--I'll give you an example that are really needed in the country. We partnered with the Ministry of Defense in Belize and had a--offered a summer program that would teach young people how to assemble computers, how to repair them. Now this is something that if your computer ever breaks down in Belize, good luck with finding help for it. But we thought that this is simple enough that--we even had some elementary school kids involved. But surely teach it at the high school level. And so we partnered with the military. We were able to have everyone over at the base. I got a colleague from Duke [Duke University] who went down and taught the course and we got donations and they assembled all the computers. And at the end of the program, plugged it in and it booted up, Windows came up, and we donated them to needy schools. So what we try to--that's an example of a skill set. To me the repair and maintenance of computers is like you needing a plumber and electrician. That's basic for a modern economy. And Belize, you know it's an area where they had it to me primarily in a cottage industry form. And the Institute acts as a catalyst to try and systemize this sort of thing in the country. So we look at these kind of basic building blocks for an economy, go in there, run a program that would stimulate it and then you have a bigger organization come in and sustain it, right. So that, that's the way we act.

Dennis Hightower

Broadcast executive and business professor Dennis Fowler Hightower was born on October 28, 1941 in Washington, D.C. to Marvin William Hightower and Virginia Fowler Hightower, an educator. After graduating from McKinley High School in 1958, Hightower attended Howard University where he earned his B.S degree in 1962. In addition to joining Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and being a college athlete, Hightower was the top graduating cadet of the Army ROTC university program.

After graduating from Howard University, Hightower was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, where he served as a platoon leader and company commander in the 101st Airborne Division. Afterwards, Hightower was trained as a counterintelligence officer and field operations intelligence officer, working in strategic and operational assignments in the United States and abroad. Hightower also served in Vietnam in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade, where he was promoted to the rank of major. Hightower was awarded two Bronze Star medals, a Purple Heart, three Air Medals, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, five Army Commendation Medals with distinction for valor, the Vietnam Honor Medal First Class, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

In 1970, Hightower was hired by Xerox as manager of organizational planning. He left his position there in 1972, when he was awarded a fellowship to attend Harvard Business School. He graduated in 1974 with his M.B.A. Hightower then joined McKinsey & Company and worked as a senior associate and engagement manager until 1978, when he was hired by General Electric’s Lighting Business Group. In 1987, Hightower was hired by The Walt Disney Company as vice president of Consumer Products for Europe, based in Paris, France, and later became president of Consumer Products for Europe, Middle East and Africa divisions. In 1995, he was promoted to president of Walt Disney Television and Telecommunications.

Upon his retirement in 1996, Hightower joined the faculty of Harvard Business School, initially as a senior lecturer and then as a professor of management in the M.B.A. program. On August 11, 2009, Hightower was appointed by President Barack Obama as deputy secretary of commerce. Hightower was charged with general management duties until his tenure ended on August 27, 2010.

His numerous awards include the U.S. Department of Commerce Pioneer Award; Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award and Bert King Service Award; and an honorary doctorate degree and Alumni Achievement Award for Business from Howard University. He is a board member of Accenture, Ltd., Brown Capital Management, Domino’s Pizza, Inc. and Casey Family Programs, and a former trustee at Howard University.

Dennis Fowler Hightower was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 31, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.004

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/31/2008

Last Name

Hightower

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Schools

McKinley Technology High School

Lucretia Mott Elementary School

Benjamin Banneker Academic High School

Harvard Business School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Dennis

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

HIG04

Favorite Season

None

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

10/28/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Business professor and broadcast executive Dennis Hightower (1941 - ) was the president of Walt Disney Television and Communications. As president, he oversaw Disney's acquisition of ABC, ABC Family, ESPN, A&E and Lifetime Networks. Upon his retirement in June 1996, Hightower joined the faculty of Harvard Business School, initially as a senior lecturer and then as a professor of management in the M.B.A. program. He also acted as the Deputy Secretary of Commerce from 2009 to 2010.

Employment

United States Army

Xerox Corporation

McKinsey and Company

G.E. Lightening Business Group

Russell Reynolds Association

Walt Disney Company

White House Administrative Office (U.S.)

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:12558,345:33344,566:41590,754:44710,801:48070,928:48630,937:66244,1164:66958,1172:67876,1184:72006,1234:96707,1625:98102,1661:100799,1718:118546,2015:119197,2026:119662,2032:144630,2344:145060,2350:152260,2501$0,0:1520,486:7092,688:61700,1072:62104,1334:68457,1534:72179,1974:131530,2256:146290,2509:161688,2689:162528,2713:179265,2996:183015,3052:194324,3128:196864,3232:214068,3536:217288,3564:249812,4178:250554,4186:252356,4212:260010,4310:263302,4367:264870,4383
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Dennis Hightower describes his parents' family backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dennis Hightower talks about his maternal grandparents' careers

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dennis Hightower remembers his maternal great-grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dennis Hightower describes his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dennis Hightower talks about the military career of his maternal uncle, James Fowler, Sr.

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dennis Hightower describes his early neighborhood in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dennis Hightower talks about his mother's teaching career

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dennis Hightower describes father's career

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dennis Hightower talks about his experiences at Lucretia Mott Elementary School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dennis Hightower remembers his classmates, Charlene Drew Jarvis and Colonel Frederick Drew Gregory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dennis Hightower describes his early influences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dennis Hightower remembers integrating McKinley Technical High School in Washington, D.C., pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dennis Hightower describes the African American community in Washington, D.C. during segregation

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dennis Hightower talks about the intellectual African American community of Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dennis Hightower remembers integrating McKinley Technical High School in Washington, D.C., pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dennis Hightower recalls his appointment to the United State Military Academy Preparatory School in West Point, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Dennis Hightower remembers his high school principal, Charles E. Bish

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dennis Hightower describes his decision to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dennis Hightower talks about his experiences at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dennis Hightower recalls his social activities at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dennis Hightower remembers his classmates at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dennis Hightower describes Howard University's social hierarchy

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dennis Hightower talks about Eddie C. Brown

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dennis Hightower recalls working for his father as a college student

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dennis Hightower remembers the civil rights activities at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dennis Hightower recalls the debate between Malcolm X and Bayard Rustin at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Dennis Hightower talks about his wife, Denia Stukes Hightower

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dennis Hightower describes his early career in the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dennis Hightower talks about his knowledge of the Civil Rights Movement during his military service

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dennis Hightower recalls serving in the Vietnam War

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dennis Hightower talks about his decision to leave the military

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dennis Hightower remembers applying to Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dennis Hightower remembers applying to Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dennis Hightower talks about the African American alumni of Harvard Business School

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dennis Hightower recalls his classes at Harvard Business School

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Dennis Hightower remembers his classmates at Harvard Business School

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Dennis Hightower describes the political climate at Harvard Business School

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Dennis Hightower remembers prominent African American business executives

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dennis Hightower describes the start of his career at McKinsey and Company and General Electric

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dennis Hightower remembers General Electric CEO Jack Welch

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dennis Hightower recalls facing racial discrimination as a businessman

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dennis Hightower talks about the restructuring of Mattel, Inc.'s business

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dennis Hightower describes his work at Russell Reynolds Associates, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dennis Hightower talks about his working relationship with Frank Wells at The Walt Disney Company

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dennis Hightower recalls the changes to Disney characters in different countries

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dennis Hightower remembers his first impressions of Soweto, South Africa

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dennis Hightower recalls meeting Desmond Tutu, Winnie Mandela and Nelson Mandela

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dennis Hightower recalls meeting with European royalty

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dennis Hightower talks about the success of The Walt Disney Company throughout Europe

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dennis Hightower remembers Michael Eisner's leadership of The Walt Disney Company

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dennis Hightower talks about his disagreements with Michael Eisner

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dennis Hightower recalls debating with Michael Eisner over television programming

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dennis Hightower remembers protesting the re-release of 'Songs of the South'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dennis Hightower describes his discontent with Disney channel programming during his tenure

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dennis Hightower talks about his decision to teach at Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Dennis Hightower describes his teaching experiences at Harvard Business School

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Dennis Hightower talks about his career after leaving Harvard Business School

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Dennis Hightower reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Dennis Hightower shares a message to future generations

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Dennis Hightower reflects upon his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$6

DAStory

5$2

DATitle
Dennis Hightower remembers integrating McKinley Technical High School in Washington, D.C., pt. 1
Dennis Hightower talks about the success of The Walt Disney Company throughout Europe
Transcript
And, of course, in my ninth grade--that's when the Brown decision [Brown V. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954] was passed. So instead of going to Dunbar [Paul Laurence Dunbar High School; Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School, Washington, D.C.] like everybody else in my family and all of our other friends who would have gone to Dunbar, we tested for different schools. And most of us ended up testing, like Paul [J. Paul Reason], myself and Leona Fitzhugh [J. Idorenyin Jamar] whose father [H. Naylor Fitzhugh] was the second or third grad, black to graduate from Harvard Business School [Boston, Massachusetts] in 1933. All of us tested into McKinley [McKinley Technical High School; McKinley Technology High School, Washington, D.C.] which was more science and technology. So I tested into their pre-engineering program. And, again, we got to McKinley, and there it was very clear, early on, that the white teachers were not happy that we were there, and particularly, because we were bright. And the thing that we then felt and understood more clearly than we had ever before was how well prepared we really were. And there was a struggle, frankly, because many of the students, many of the teachers--there was a track system in D.C. [Washington, D.C.] at the time. There were four tracks. Track one was the top track, which they called college prep, and then track two, I forgot, I forgot what it was called. But then track three and track four were basically training you to be a secretary or to be a, you know, a trades person, whatever. So they tried to keep most of us out of track one, but it didn't work because our work was track one work, so those of us who did well, we ended up after the first semester in all track one, which would be AP [advanced placement] today. And we showed what we can do. And then what we realized was that these white kids weren't all that smart (laughter).$$What was the percentage of black students at McKinley?$$It changed. It was very interesting over that three years from '55 [1955] to '58 [1958]. I would say we had about 350 in our class. Going in, let's say 15 percent, 20 percent at the max were, were black. By the time we graduated, 75 percent were black. That's when the white flight occurred. Everyone who didn't really believe that educat- that integration was the right thing, that's when people moved to Silver Spring [Maryland], to Bethesda [Maryland], to Chevy Chase [Maryland]. That's when the white flight occurred.$And I'll give you an example. Michael Eisner and I were in Moscow [Russia] the day that McDonald's [McDonald's Corporation] opened their first restaurant in, near Pushkin Square [Pushkinskaya Square], in Moscow. We were there because we were gonna see Yeltsin [Boris Yeltsin] and (unclear) about a Disney Store, in Russia, in Moscow. The problem was, they wanted us to put it right next to the KGB headquarters in Detskiy Mir which was a children's store in Russia. It's, you don't want me to get into that. But, yeah, we were at Pushkin Square. And Michael said, "Dennis [HistoryMaker Dennis Hightower], what's going on there?" I said, "That's the opening of the store," and, you know, McDonald's was our promotional partner, like they are in the U.S. for all the animated films. There were like thousands of people ringing this small store. I said, "Michael, I want you to look and I want you to observe what's happening." I said, "Here is entrepreneurialism in its purest form." What you will see is that they were letting people in. No restrictions on how many could go in at a time. People were coming out with their bags of whatever, hamburgers, French fries, whatever. And they were selling it to the people who were in line. I said, "That tells you that we can do business here. So despite the repression that people had gone through and lived under," I said, "there are a lot of rubles stuck literally in mattresses waiting to be used. There's pent up demand here, Michael." And sure enough, that's exactly what happened. So when we actually, you know, moved in there and got set up with publishing and some of the other things we did (makes sound), we just took off because the money was there. And the money was there because my deal with Frank was that I would not (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Frank?$$Frank Wells. I was not gonna put Disney [The Disney Company, Burbank, California] at risk. So when my key publisher wanted to come in from Denmark 'cause they had done a lot of business there as well, they had to pay me in German, in Deutsche marks because that was the strongest currency at the time, that they took the currency risk when we brought Nestle [Nestle S.A.], Mattel [Mattel, Inc.] and other, our other major product partners in, they would pay us in the currency of choice that their contract was under, not in rubles. The advertisers, the same way. So even though my plan said we weren't gonna make money for five years, we made money in the first two years of getting it started up because we shipped at risk. And Disney's great for OPM, using other people's money (laughter) you know. But that's again the pound, the brand, you know.$$Were you equally successful in countries like Spain?$$Yeah, I mean those countries had been there. Those were the, those were sort of the core countries. What we did, we took it to another level, took it to another level in terms of product design, product quality, distribution, marketing, taking more control of the brand as Disney whereas before, the licensees basically took charge of the brand. And I said, "Now, we're, you know, that stops today." We started doing value analysis and saying where along the value chain can we stop and bring it back in house and, 'cause we were just leaving too much money on the table, and we were putting the brand at risk 'cause nobody was basically minding the store or minding the brand. So, you know, I ended up buying up almost all of my publishers, and I became the publisher. We set up factories that did clothing where we controlled the design, especially the high end stuff that was several thousand dollars of, you know, in price, and in price points, retail price points. And then we'd get, you know, like Hennes and Mauritz [H and M Hennes and Mauritz A.B.] or CNA [CNA Financial Corporation] or some of the other big retailers, El Corte Ingles [El Corte Ingles S.A.] in Spain to the, sort of the midlines which then complimented the other lines in their business and they also gave us space, two hundred to three hundred square meters of space within their stores so even though I didn't run the Disney stores, I had the special permission from Frank and Michael to set up shop within shops. They weren't stand alones like the Disney Store. They were three hundred square meters where we then controlled the merchandise mix.

Reuben R. McDaniel

University professor and administrator Reuben Roosevelt McDaniel, Jr., was born on January 6, 1936, to Nannie and Reuben Roosevelt McDaniel, Sr. in Petersburg, Virginia. McDaniel received his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Drexel University in 1964; his M.A. degree in guidance and counseling from the University of Akron in 1968; and his Ed.D. in higher education from Indiana University in 1971.

McDaniel was first employed as a mechanical designer at the Government and Industrial Division of Philco Corporation from 1956 to 1960. In 1965, McDaniel began his work in education at Baldwin-Wallace College Learning Center where, as the only African American in the administration, he held the positions of Director for Division of Educational Services, Assistant to the Dean, and Assistant Professor of Education. After leaving Baldwin-Wallace College, McDaniel held several positions over the years at the University of Texas-Austin, including Dean of Students (1972-73), Assistant Professor of Management (1972-75), and Associate Professor of Management (1975-1981). For six months in 1979, McDaniel served as Acting Deputy Commissioner for Medical Programs for the Texas Department of Human Resources. McDaniel served as Professor of Management Science and Information Systems for the University of Texas-Austin, in addition to being Adjunct Professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Texas Health Center in San Antonio. Over all, McDaniel accumulated over thirty-eight years experience in university education and administration.

As an expert in complexity science, McDaniel received numerous awards and recognitions, including Fellow at the IC2 Institute, and Outstanding Professor of the McCombs School of Business. McDaniel served on and chaired multiple university committees and councils, and held various leadership positions on community committees. McDaniel authored two books, The Uncertainty and Surprise in Complex Systems and Organizations: An Information Systems Perspective, completed chapters in thirteen books and wrote more than sixty articles.

McDaniel passed away in February 2016.

Accession Number

A2007.050

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/6/2007

Last Name

McDaniel

Maker Category
Schools

Matoaca Elementary School

D. Webster Davis Laboratory High School

University of Pennsylvania

Drexel University

Northfield Mount Hermon School

University of Akron

Indiana University

First Name

Reuben

Birth City, State, Country

Petersburg

HM ID

MCD03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Helsinki, Finland

Favorite Quote

Learn As If The World Never Ending Be, And Live As If Tomorrow Should End Eternity.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

1/6/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Austin

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Breakfast Foods

Death Date

2/10/2016

Short Description

Academic administrator and business professor Reuben R. McDaniel (1936 - 2016 ) held high-level academic and administrative positions at Baldwin-Wallace College Learning Center, the University of Texas-Austin, Texas Department of Human Resources, and the University of Texas Health Center in San Antonio. In addition to his work in the field of education, McDaniel also received many awards and recognition for his expertise in complexity science.

Employment

U.S. Government

Philco Corporation

Sperry Rand Corporation

Baldwin-Wallace College

Indiana University

University of Texas at Austin

Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration

Florida State University

Claremont Graduate School

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:1875,32:2400,40:2925,48:6540,92:14724,192:28032,294:28800,308:29824,331:30272,339:30592,359:37087,447:59616,745:74957,1012:75704,1023:76285,1031:80020,1100:82842,1168:98992,1457:106230,1608:106615,1614:107000,1620:107539,1629:111158,1690:111620,1698:112005,1704:112467,1712:115239,1755:115778,1764:116394,1773:121300,1781:121768,1788:124810,1868:134716,2102:144876,2196:146088,2211:149212,2228:158830,2326:161360,2365$0,0:9990,61:11741,75:12771,86:13595,95:22800,201:23520,211:25040,236:25840,247:30240,328:31120,341:35040,397:35440,403:35920,411:36240,416:40400,518:49346,583:49934,590:50718,601:56798,674:60685,707:61195,714:61535,719:62385,732:62810,739:63150,744:64085,756:71068,843:71998,854:74415,868:75775,886:76455,895:77305,904:78155,915:80875,974:84955,1053:85295,1058:90250,1079:90778,1086:91306,1093:91834,1100:94034,1133:96146,1167:98522,1199:100106,1217:111218,1310:112910,1362:113474,1374:130546,1530:131824,1560:146662,1646:147254,1655:147550,1713:154432,1827:154950,1834:158576,1901:161018,1939:175243,2159:176601,2182:181930,2243:182246,2248:191720,2350:196730,2420:197250,2430:197770,2440:200676,2466:201168,2473:202644,2493:203136,2500:208876,2615:210188,2642:216666,2738:217076,2744:235362,2919:250782,3153:252340,3163
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Reuben R. McDaniel's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Reuben R. McDaniel lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Reuben R. McDaniel describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Reuben R. McDaniel remembers the Mount Olive Baptist Church in Cumberland, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Reuben R. McDaniel describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Reuben R. McDaniel describes his father's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Reuben R. McDaniel remembers his relationship with his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Reuben R. McDaniel remembers lessons from his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Reuben R. McDaniel reflects upon his father's influence

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Reuben R. McDaniel talks about his sister

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Reuben R. McDaniel talks about his family's history of enslavement

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Reuben R. McDaniel describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Reuben R. McDaniel remembers Matoaca Laboratory Elementary School in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Reuben R. McDaniel recalls his teachers at Matoaca Laboratory Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Reuben R. McDaniel describes his experiences at D. Webster Davis Laboratory High School in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Reuben R. McDaniel remembers the Mount Hermon School for Boys in Gill, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Reuben R. McDaniel recalls the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Reuben R. McDaniel describes his engineering career

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Reuben R. McDaniel recalls earning a degree at the Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Reuben R. McDaniel describes his liberal arts education at the Mount Hermon School for Boys

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Reuben R. McDaniel remembers joining the faculty of Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Reuben R. McDaniel describes his civil rights activities

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Reuben R. McDaniel recalls the shootings at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Reuben R. McDaniel reflects upon his experiences in white communities

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Reuben R. McDaniel describes his experiences at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Reuben R. McDaniel describes his studies at the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Reuben R. McDaniel recalls earning an Ed.D. degree at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Reuben R. McDaniel talks about his interest in college administration

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Reuben R. McDaniel describes his research with the Texas State Department of Welfare

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Reuben R. McDaniel describes his roles at the University of Texas at Austin

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Reuben R. McDaniel talks about his research at the University of Texas at Austin

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Reuben R. McDaniel talks about chaos and complexity theory

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Reuben R. McDaniel describes his research on family medical practices

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Reuben R. McDaniel recalls teaching at the Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration in Finland

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Reuben R. McDaniel talks about the graduate students at the University of Texas at Austin

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Reuben R. McDaniel reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Reuben R. McDaniel shares a message to future generations

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Reuben R. McDaniel describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Reuben R. McDaniel narrates his photographs

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Reuben R. McDaniel remembers lessons from his mother
Reuben R. McDaniel talks about chaos and complexity theory
Transcript
What was the lesson, one of the lessons learned from your mother [Nannie Finney McDaniel]?$$People ask me how did you get so smart. First thing is I don't think I'm very smart, but that's the question people ask and there really is an answer. When I was about eight, I had this question. I was interested in knowing whether or not boiling water would freeze, which is a reasonable question exactly as a scientist would say. It's a very reasonable question. So I boiled some water and put it in the--took out the ice out of the ice cube trays and put the boiling water in the refrigerator and closed the door. My mother came home from work and the refrigerator was defrosted as you would know and she said, "Well has the electricity been off?" I said, "No ma'am." "Was the refrigerator door open?" "No ma'am." "Wonder how everything got defrosted?" And I remember we ate the steaks 'cause (laughter) they had come--had been frozen now they weren't frozen anymore. So a little bit later on in the evening when my mother was washing dishes I went and opened the refrigerator door and tapped on the ice cube trays and my mother said, "What are you doing?" 'Cause she was watching, 'cause this was her refrigerator that just messed up all her food. "What you doing?" And I told--said, "I wanted to find out if boiling water would freeze so I put some boiling water in here." So she said, "Well does it freeze?" I said, "Yes ma'am." She said, "Fine." She never said, "You know you defrosted my refrigerator." "Well if you wanted to know why didn't you ask me," you know, yes, okay fine. I was five, seven, eight years later before I realized I had defrosted that refrigerator, but that was the kind of thing that my mother did and that particular incident of course I remember because almost every parent including myself would say, "Well now listen, if you wanna know if water freezes, you ask me you know 'cause I know whether it freezes or not," but she didn't she just says, "Well did it?" "Yes ma'am, it sure did." She didn't say, "Well you ruined my dinner," or, "You melted my ice cream," or any of those things which she could've said, and I think that has encouraged me to be curious, to be willing to ask questions, to be willing to find out for myself (laughter). So that--there're lots of other lessons of course, but that was one of which I remember a lot.$Now in 2007, okay, the thing that I do is I studied the, the management of healthcare delivery systems from the standpoint of complexity science. Now it's two, two parts to that.$$Okay.$$I don't study insurance companies, I don't study government policy, I don't study financing of healthcare. What I study is how healthcare is delivered to people. So I'm interested in the organization that puts their hand on your body (laughter) okay, not, not I' not arguing about the others. It's just what I know a lot about, so family practices, specialty practices, hospitals, nursing homes, places where they actually, as I say, kill people (laughter). Now, the other thing I do is something that I'm getting to be fairly well known for is that I have learned lot about complexity science. I'll say in a moment what that is, how it applies to help us understand better how to manage healthcare delivery systems. Complexity science is lots, I mean it's really a complicated thing to explain, but I can give you an explanation, it's very straightforward.$$Okay.$$Most science is about how simple things create simple things or how complicated things create complicated things. Complexity science is about how simple things can create complicated things.$$Okay.$$In general that's under the rubric of chaos theory. It is also about how complicated things can create simple things, and that under the rubric of complexity theory. So let me see what I mean by it. First, a simple thing creating a complicated thing--a manager goes in and says something to a worker and the next thing you know there's a strike, and the manager goes, "What happened?" Okay, or somebody gets a round tube of plastic and their daughter swings it around their hips and the next thing you know you have hula hoops, and you've got hula hoop contests all over the United States. You've got men, women, old men and women stupidly standing around twisting and you've got Rueben McDaniel [HistoryMaker Reuben R. McDaniel] driving his son [Reuben McDaniel III] to Dallas [Texas] to compete in the state hula hoop contest. In the heat in the summertime that was really stupid (laughter), but that's a complicated thing that comes out of a very simple thing and that, that is, that's a very sophisticated way of analyzing those issues. Now a simple thing out of a complicated thing--okay. The best way to think of it is how do you get order in a system where you would not expect to have any order. So how do things become orderly in a system where, well why would you expect that it would become orderly? Let's take an example. If you go into an elementary school it doesn't take you long to figure out it's a pretty complex thing. Lots of children, all ages, mothers and fathers doing this, that and the others, teachers young, old and in between, principals smart and stupid, but somehow or the other out of that emerges order. (Makes noise) Kids go to their rooms, they study curriculum, they learn to read often. So how do you get order out of a--that kind of a complicated thing? So that's what complexity--complexity science is about a lot of other things, but it's about those two things primarily.

David A. Thomas

Harvard Business School professor David Anthony Thomas was born September 26, 1956, in Kansas City, Missouri, to working-class parents, Jesse and Jewel Thomas. Thomas attended Henry C. Kumpf Elementary School and for a year attended Manual High School. Thomas was influenced by Al Winder of Job Opportunities for Youth and by an American Field Service trip to France in 1973. Thomas graduated from Paseo High School in 1974, and with the help of Glenn de Chabert, was admitted to Yale University. President of Black Student Alliance at Yale, Thomas earned his B.A. degree in administrative sciences in 1978.

After graduation, Thomas directed Operation Get Ahead, a youth program in Long Island, New York. Assisted by future Howard University business pioneer Leroy Wells, he earned his M.A. degree in organizational sciences from Columbia University in 1981, his M.S. degree in philosophy and organizational behavior from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in organizational behavior in 1986; his dissertation focused on mentorship.

Thomas served as an assistant professor of management and business administration at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania from 1986 to 1990. Thomas joined the Harvard Business School in 1990 as an assistant professor, and eventually went on hold the positions of the H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor, senior associate dean, and director of faculty recruiting; H. Naylor Fitzhugh was a Pepsi executive who earned the first black Harvard MBA in 1933.

Writing extensively on minority mentoring, career development and how organizations shape the racial dynamics of individuals and groups within, Thomas has been published in the Journal of Organized Behavior and the Administrative Science Quarterly among other periodicals. Having taught courses in self-assessment, career development and leadership, Thomas also lectures for the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Urban Superintendent Program and the Harvard Divinity School’s Leadership Development Institute.

In 2001, Thomas received the George E. Terry Award for outstanding management book for his 1999 publication of Breaking Through: The Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America. In his book, Thomas profiled minority executives to determine how people of color and the companies they work for can overcome barriers.

Thomas is professionally associated with the Academy of Management, the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations and National Training Laboratories.

Thomas married his high school sweetheart, with whom he lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They have two children.

Accession Number

A2005.217

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/18/2005

Last Name

Thomas

Maker Category
Middle Name

A.

Occupation
Schools

Paseo High School

Henry C. Kumpf Elementary School

Manual High & Vocational School

Yale University

Columbia University

First Name

David

Birth City, State, Country

Kansas City

HM ID

THO10

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bermuda

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

9/26/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Barbecue (Ribs)

Short Description

Business professor David A. Thomas (1956 - ) is the H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor at Harvard Business School. He has published extensively on minority mentoring and career development.

Employment

Harvard Graduate School of Business

Wharton School of Finance

Operation Get Ahead

Boys & Girls Harbor

Teachers College, Columbia University

Favorite Color

Black

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of David A. Thomas' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - David A. Thomas lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - David A. Thomas describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - David A. Thomas describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - David A. Thomas describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - David A. Thomas describes his mother's first marriage and move to Kansas City

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - David A. Thomas describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - David A. Thomas describes his father's service in the U.S. Navy

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - David A. Thomas describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - David A. Thomas describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - David A. Thomas describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - David A. Thomas recalls growing up in the Oak Park neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - David A. Thomas describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - David A. Thomas talks about the Kansas City Chiefs and African American athletes

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - David A. Thomas recalls the significance of wearing an afro

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - David A. Thomas describes the segregation of schools in Kansas City, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - David A. Thomas recalls his experience of discrimination at Henry C. Kumpf School, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - David A. Thomas recalls his experience of discrimination at Henry C. Kumpf School, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - David A. Thomas recalls his decision to study in France

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - David A. Thomas recalls how Arthur Bronson influenced him

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - David A. Thomas remembers his year abroad in France

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - David A. Thomas recalls his decision to attend Yale University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - David A. Thomas recalls being unprepared for Yale University's academic rigor

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - David A. Thomas recalls his courses at Yale University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - David A. Thomas describes his wife's family and education

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - David A. Thomas recalls his early mentors

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - David A. Thomas recalls his high school mentor, Al Winder

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - David A. Thomas remembers his college mentor, Glenn DeChabert

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - David A. Thomas describes his involvement in Black Student Alliance at Yale

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - David A. Thomas describes Yale University's African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - David A. Thomas describes his employment in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - David A. Thomas recalls his initial rejection from Yale University's Ph.D. program

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - David A. Thomas remembers his admission to Yale University's Ph.D. program

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - David A. Thomas describes his career goals and university degrees

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - David A. Thomas explains how he applied his education to the Black Student Alliance at Yale

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - David A. Thomas describes how he applied his education to Operation Get Ahead

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - David A. Thomas talks about the field of organizational behavior

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - David A. Thomas describes his experience as a Ph.D. student at Yale University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - David A. Thomas talks about his dissertation

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - David A. Thomas talks about H. Naylor Fitzhugh, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - David A. Thomas talks about H. Naylor Fitzhugh, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - David A. Thomas recalls applying for positions at Harvard Business School and University of Michigan

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - David A. Thomas talks about his decision to teach at Harvard Business School

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - David A. Thomas talks about the focus of his published works

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - David A. Thomas describes his book, 'Breaking Through,' pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - David A. Thomas describes his book, 'Breaking Through,' pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - David A. Thomas talks about successful African American executives

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - David A. Thomas talks about the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - David A. Thomas reflects upon the changing role of organizational leaders

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - David A. Thomas describes his role at the Harvard Business School and its collaborations

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - David A. Thomas reflects upon his work at Harvard Business School

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - David A. Thomas describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - David A. Thomas describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - David A. Thomas reflects upon his life

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - David A. Thomas reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - David A. Thomas talks about his wife and children

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - David A. Thomas reflects upon the success of different minority groups in business

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - David A. Thomas reflects upon the obstacles faced by people of color in business

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - David A. Thomas David A. Thomas reflects upon the progress of minority groups in business

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - David A. Thomas describes how he would like to be remembered

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David A. Thomas recalls his decision to attend Yale University
David A. Thomas talks about the focus of his published works
Transcript
And then this counselor that I had in high school [Paseo High School; Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts, Kansas City, Missouri], she was getting ready to retire, and she was responsible for putting every black man from Kansas City [Missouri] who had ever gone to Yale [Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut] and at that time there had only been four. She was the person who had been their counselor and put them there. She was getting ready to retire, and she wanted to put one more. So, she got me and a guy who was one of my best friends, a guy named Oscar Donahue [Oscar Donahue III] to apply. And Oscar had been drum major, president of the class, you know, chief bottle washer, you know, I mean, everything. And you know, I--you know I was good, you know, but I wasn't that--it just wasn't my MO [modus operandi], and I know that had I not gone to France, right, that going to France is what gave me the nod, you know. And if I hadn't gone to France, I was going, you know, by then I had decided that I was going to go to Morehouse [Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia], you know, 'cause the guy down the street had gone to Morehouse and Martin Luther King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] had gone to Morehouse. So I was like, Martin Luther King. Then I was like now since this cat gets in, I'm--I'm pretty sure I can go, that's where I was going and I probably wouldn't, you know, I wouldn't have come on my counselor's screen, you know. 'Cause it was another one of those, she knew I was a good student and all that, but you know, she didn't see me as a kid, you know, with the fire in the belly. And--and she fell in love with my mother [Jewel Nichols Thomas]. Because I had to go to France, you know, there was a lot of stuff that the counselor had to do. So she spent a lot of time then with my parents, you know, and I think saw, you know, what the--my depth through dealing with me, you know more intimate way and dealing with my family. And, you know, that's how I wound up at Yale.$$Okay. So--so what year is this? This is 19--$$Nineteen seventy-four [1974]. September '74 [1974], I arrive at Yale, and I graduated in 1978.$So the essence of your work is, I think maybe, can be--well the first thing that you focused on I guess in your dissertation [at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut] was mentorship?$$Yep.$$Did you continue to, you know, really focus on that?$$I continued to focus on that and wrote a number of papers on that topic. A matter of fact I--I like to tell people that, you know, basically in my career I've written three blockbusters, you know, my dissertation was a blockbuster, 'cause it produced what I guess, you know. It produced about five job offers, it probably has produced a stream of consulting that, you know, if I could add it all up over the last twenty years well over a million dollars' worth, you know, (laughter), right. So I continue to do work in that. And in fact, you know, right now I'm--I'm writing a paper for a--a--an anthology on mentoring. So I continued working that. And then that sort of blossomed into a broader interest in the development, advancement of executives of color in--in organizations of which, you know, mentoring is a piece. And that's what led to the 'Breaking Through[: The Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America,' David A. Thomas and John J. Gabarro] book, which--which also became a blockbuster in terms of, you know, if you just kind of look at it in terms of book sales, the way that it influenced my own career arc, the consulting that's come from that. And--and then another piece of work has to do with what are the conditions under which diversity becomes a positive resource for organizational effectiveness and performance. And--and you know, that work has also had that same kind of flavor to it in terms of being, you know, being a core building block. So yeah.