George Kozmetsky’s accomplishments were many, though to the McCombs School he is best appreciated as the dean who transformed a regionally strong college business program into a national leader.
Kozmetsky was born in 1917 to parents who had emigrated to the U.S. from Belarus, just in time to escape the Russian Revolution and subsequent invasion by the Soviet Union. His father died when Kozmetsky was five years old, which left the task of raising him to his mother, Nadya, the person Kozmetsky credited for instilling in him a work ethic and passion for education. Kozmetsky did well in school, completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington by the time he was twenty, and then opened the first CPA practice in Olympia, Washington. During the Second World War, Kozmetsky enlisted in the Army, was assigned to the medical corps, and spent time on the front line in Europe as the Army advanced through France, Belgium, and into Germany. He was awarded a Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, a Silver Star, and a Purple Heart.
After the war, Kozmetsky continued his education, earned an MBA in 1947 and finished a Ph.D. in Commercial Science a decade later, both from Harvard. In 1960, he co-founded Teledyne, an entrepreneurial start-up that grew into a Fortune 500 company within six years. Kotzmetsky was getting noticed, particularly by the University of Texas, which recruited him to be the dean of its College and Graduate School of Business in 1966.
Over the next sixteen years, Kozmetsky put in long days. He was regularly in his office by 4:30 a.m., meeting with local and national business leaders who were treated to breakfasts of corn flakes and orange juice. He recruited star-quality faculty, encouraged a cross-disciplinary approach to faculty research, emphasized technology in the business curriculum, and oversaw the completion of the Graduate School of Business Building in 1976. He made personal financial contributions to the school and tirelessly solicited important endowments that helped to boost the business program into the national rankings.
Toward the end of his tenure, Kozmetsky founded the IC2 Institute, a think tank devoted to researching the intersection of business, government, and education. By 1983, just as Kozmetsky had finished his term as dean, he and the IC2 Institute were instrumental in bringing the Microcomputer and Technology Corporation (MCC) to Austin, chosen among sixty competing cities. Similar efforts wooed 3M in 1984, the Sematech in 1988, followed closely by AMD, Motorola, Samsung, and many others, which transformed the Austin cityscape into a high technology center, and fulfilled Kozmetsky’s vision of he termed a “technopolis.” He was one of the first two directors of the Dell Computer Corporation and was director emeritus of Dell until 2003.
“His institutional legacy at The University of Texas at Austin is extraordinary,” UT President Larry Faulkner said of Kozmetsky, “and his influence will be felt for generations.”