Leading by Example
Tom and Mary Howatt endow a named professorship
Tom Howatt knows a little something about leadership.
When the Krannert School of Management celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2007 and an alumni panel led a presentation on “What It Takes to Lead,” Howatt (BSIM ’72, MS ’73) felt right at home.
The son of a Scottish immigrant who left Glasgow with his family and resettled in Gary, Indiana, Howatt arrived at Purdue on a National Merit Scholarship. He was the first in his immediate family to attend college — let alone rise through the ranks of the business world to become a chief executive officer.
After leaving Purdue, Howatt joined Wausau Paper Mills Co. in 1980. He became a division vice president in 1987, and rose to become president and CEO in 2000. Under his leadership, Wausau Paper grew to peak revenues of $1.3 billion in a rapidly changing economy and industry. Howatt retired as president and CEO in December 2011 and as chairman of the board of Wausau Paper in 2014 after a 34-year association with the company. Today he serves as chairman of the board of the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank dedicated to the principles of competitive free markets, limited government, private initiative and personal responsibility.
This year, Howatt fulfilled a longstanding dream and, with his wife, Mary, committed $1.5 million to fund the Thomas J. Howatt Chair in Management, for which he received the President’s Council Distinguished Pinnacle Award from Purdue President Mitch Daniels — a man whom Howatt admires for his leadership skills.
Since 2002, Howatt has served on the Krannert Dean’s Advisory Council, which re-established his connection to Krannert and the Purdue community.
“As a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council, I couldn’t help but be involved in planning for the future of the school,” he says. "An endowed professorship was the right thing for me to do to help recruit and retain top-tier professors who, I believe, are a critical element in positioning Krannert for future success.”
Given his experience, he is also excited about contributing to the University’s growth and success. Howatt praises Daniels’ “exceptional” leadership and his focus on research excellence and affordable higher education.
“I’ve been fortunate to be in positions of leadership and to know firsthand how much leadership matters,” he says. “So many things are moving in the right direction. I couldn’t be more pleased with the direction Purdue, and Krannert under Dean Hummels’ leadership, are headed and the level of excellence to which we aspire.”