Dreiser in 1975
taker Harry Dreiser, 90, helped build Kellogg School
brand with PR savvy
For 70 years,
Harry Dreiser immersed himself in editing and writing news.
To the Kellogg School community, however, he is perhaps best
known for making headlines that put Northwestern Universitys
business school into rarified air as a leading brand in management
his efforts as public relations officer in 1979, Mr. Dreiser
proved instrumental in helping Northwestern obtain a $10 million
gift from the John L. and Helen Kellogg Foundation for its
business school. The grant was then one of the largest ever
of its kind, and it led to the school being renamed the Kellogg
Graduate School of Management.
died Dec. 11 at the Birches Retirement Home in Clarendon Hills,
by his former boss Pete Henderson as the best business
school PR guy in the country, Mr. Dreiser came to Northwestern
from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business
where he had served as head of public relations.
was a risk taker and a delight to be with, said Henderson,
Kelloggs associate dean for administrative affairs from
1971 to 1981. No one was more responsible than Harry
for Kelloggs rise in the rankings. He brought access
to and the interest of major business press to the school.
he came to Northwestern in 1976, Mr. Dreiser earned a reputation
as a maverick with an insatiable curiosity. In his unpublished
memoirs, Coping: A Twentieth Century Odyssey, Mr. Dreiser
describes himself gaping in awe at the occasional airplane
[flying] overhead during his childhood, and he recalled
living through a time that spanned the invention of automobiles
and the rise of space exploration. After high school he worked
on the Belleville Daily News-Democrat, then rode the rails
west as a hobo. He worked as a ranch hand in Arizona before
hitchhiking to Los Angeles. He returned to Illinois in 1933
to marry his high school sweetheart, Lillian Hauser. He served
in the Army Air Forces during World War II and later worked
as a copy editor at the Chicago Sun, the Sun-Times and the
Chicago American. He went on to edit trade publications for
Cahners before venturing into academic public relations.
He retired from Kellogg in 1994.
say that Mr. Dreiser brought humor and intelligence to his
various roles, and that he could skillfully translate technical
subjects into language comprehensible to the layperson.
may not have been huge in physical stature, but he was a giant
in making his presence felt, said Kelloggs Associate
Dean for Student Affairs Ed Wilson. His insights were
profound. What I most admired was his wit and wisdom.
Dean Emeritus Donald P. Jacobs also recalls Mr. Dreiser fondly.
was an extraordinary human being, and what most of us think
of when picturing a great newspaper reporter, said Jacobs.
Harry had real style the laconic voice, the cigarette
dangling. When he came to Northwestern, we were PR amateurs.
He was constantly teaching us, and we were good learners.
recalls initially meeting with Mr. Dreiser. We asked
Harry who he thought was the second best PR talent after himself.
He told us How about me? I hear its exciting on
the north side of town. He was 65 then and jumped ship
to take on a new challenge, said Henderson.
colleagues say Mr. Dreiser brought public relations savvy
and superb strategic sense to the business school, and that
he immediately created a Kellogg mystique that the national
business press found irresistible. Soon, well-placed articles
about the school began appearing in the pages of The Wall
Street Journal and Chicago Tribune.
truly loved Harry, remembered Jacobs. He retired
three times but didnt seem able to stay away. I would
say Dont you want to come back? And he would.
is survived by his wife, Lillian; a daughter, Elizabeth Johnson;
two sons, Daniel and Richard; three grandchildren, and one