Known for his incredible memory, Phil Adler has been able to maintain long-term relationships with many of the students he taught during his nearly 40-year career at the College of Management. Though he retired in 2000, the professor emeritus of strategic management continues to serve as a much-valued mentor to many of these alumni.
A group of graduates has returned the favor by completing a successful fundraising initiative to name the fourth-floor north wing of the Management building the "Donna L. and Dr. Philip Adler Jr. Faculty Excellence Wing." The space is home to faculty offices, which is only appropriate, says Mack Reese, IM 1983 and MSM 1985, who led the fundraising effort.
"His teaching ability and interest in and compassion for students are something that all Georgia Tech professors should aspire to," explains Reese, partner with Gateway Development Services. "He's always been available for me after I graduated, and he continues to be to this day. I've gone to him for advice on ideas and challenges I've faced in my own business…. He's a friend in every respect of the word."
Other alumni instrumental in the fundraising initiative included Owen Herrin, IM 1970; Marion Glover, IM 1965; Calvin Johnson, MGT SCI 1973; Mike McCarthy, IM 1968; Toney Means, IM 1983; Joe Montgomery, IM 1983; and Bob Prather, IM 1967 and MSM 1970.
They helped inspire about 45 Georgia Tech alumni to surpass the $750,000 fundraising goal by $175,000 before the initiative ended December 31. Funds received for this initiative qualified for dollar-for-dollar matching from an anonymous challenge grant donor.
Adler, a retired US Air Force Reserve Colonel, concurrently served as clinical associate professor of rehabilitation medicine at Emory University School of Medicine during his years at Georgia Tech. Much sought after for his expertise, Adler served as an organizational advisor to the White House Press Office and the Office of Management and Budget during the Carter Administration. In addition to organizational structure, his academic specialties include management theory, personnel management, and research-and-development/high-tech program management.
Adler is not remembered fondly by alumni because he was an easy professor. He taught by the Socratic Method, constantly putting students on the spot in class. "If you didn't come to his class prepared, you paid for it," Reese remembers.
"They learned or else….," Adler told Tech Topics in 2001. "You don't tell the students the answer. You lead them to it and get them to develop their ability to think quickly and accurately under pressure, like the real world."