- BS Chemical Engineering 1967
Gary Anderson, a leader in industry, has stood on the shoulders of giants—that is, his parents, whom he speaks of with fondness and admiration.
Anderson grew up in Ishpeming on Michigan’s iron range. His grandfather was killed in a mining accident, so his father had to quit school at age 15 and go to work in the mines to support the family. When his parents started their own family, they worked their hearts out for their children. His mother wanted to make sure he had a good education; his father wanted him to have a better life than he had. “They never had anything beyond the basics,” Anderson recalls, and he’s amazed yet at their sacrifice, so he could go to college.
Anderson went on to earn a BS in chemical engineering in 1967. Tech proved to be tough, but he welcomed the rigor. “It hardened you and sharpened you to compete globally.”
He spent his entire career at Dow Corning, becoming president, CEO, and chairman. He retired in 2004 after seeing the firm grow thirtyfold and be recognized as one of the nation’s top 100 companies to work for.
He says life is like a pyramid. The foundation is education; the building blocks are the opportunities and challenges of life. “All your life is about learning,” he avows. He allows that his pyramid is “big and broad,” for he was always interested in other people, projects, and countries.
Global competition is the biggest challenge facing America, he says. “Our country has not accepted the fact that we are no longer the most economically efficient and powerful. We’ve seen the glory days. Now we have to sacrifice to stay competitive.”
Anderson was a 1991–2003 member and a past president of the Board of Trustees of the Tech Fund. He was instrumental in securing major funding for the Dow Environmental Sciences Building. He and his wife, Judy, are members of the 1885 Society, supporting an endowed research fund in chemical engineering.
“I would not have achieved what I did without Tech. It made me strong and resilient. Tech is important to me because, if our country is to stay competitive, we need bright creative young scientists and engineers to make it happen.”