What a Quality Education Can Do

After reading the “Lift While You Climb” article in the fall 2021 edition of Illinois Tech Magazine, Ronald A. Dickman (BE ’67) reached out to share how his experiences as a student mirror the vision that President Raj Echambadi has for the university.

I sure enjoyed reading the article (interview) on Illinois Tech’s new president, Mr. Raj Echambadi, in the fall 2021 issue.

In the article Mr. Echambadi said that he wants to empower and provide opportunities for everyone to receive a quality education. I agree, and I’m a good example. I never thought that a kid from Chicago’s South Side (Englewood) would become a vice president, let alone a CPA.

Education has given my wife, Karen, and I a good life and a very good retirement!

A Nudge in the Right Direction

Edward Kokkelenberg (CHE ’57), professor emeritus in the Department of Economics at Binghamton University, recently shared memories of his time at Illinois Tech and provided an update on his life and career.

As a lowly Junior Achievement student in the 1950s, I sat next to the president of IIT, John T. Rettaliata, at a dinner. He encouraged me to apply to IIT. And as a mail boy one summer in the 1950s, I worked at Armour Pharmaceutical. My route took me to several chem labs, inspiring me to become a chemist. When I won a scholarship to IIT, I enrolled.

Graduating in 1957 with degrees in chemical engineering and natural gas technology, to my amazement, I found my cohort was in demand. I received at least seven offers, but I took the staid one of Amoco Chemical, part of Standard Oil of Indiana. The other offers included Peoples Gas Light and Coke Co., Columbia Gas, Mobile Oil in New York, a company in Detroit, another in Pittsburgh, and one at Cape Canaveral [in Florida] fussing with rocket fuels. I also applied to the State Department and had a serious interview. They declined my application, but I was told later that that was normal, and they really wanted [me] to apply again. I was naïve and did not do so.

Several years later, I earned a doctorate from Northwestern in economics, secured tenure at Binghamton University, and worked at the National Academy of Sciences. Along the way, I supported many grad students, placed some of my doctoral students in academic and government positions, worked with Nobel laureates, published, and became a departmental chair. I retired about 10 years ago, and I currently write an occasional piece and give some modest talks.

My sincere thanks to IIT for the great education and the start they gave to me. It has helped me understand quantitative material [and] become an econometrician and a cited economist.