[CHIMING OF CHURCH BELLS] DAVID SKORTON: Welcome to Cornell. You've come to a unique and life changing place-- a place of limitless opportunity and great diversity. A place where people learn and discover and create and act to lift the world's burdens.
KATHRYN BOOR: In 1961, Charles Dyson brought his son John to Cornell University to study what was then known as agricultural economics. Since that time, Charles and his wife, Margaret, and their children, Annie, Rob, Peter, and John, have had a long and rich history with our School of Applied Economics and Management and Cornell University. This legacy will last into perpetuity.
JOHN DYSON: This is about generations of kids who can come here now, go to a school that'll be able to teach them the things they need to know.
FRANK RHODES: Education is the only kind of giving I know that has a multiplier effect. It helps not just one generation. It fuels the next generation, and it does that not simply by educating, but by the research it generates, expanding the horizons, creating new possibilities where none existed before, and Charles Dyson knew that very well. He was a very entrepreneurial man. He would see opportunities where there were no opportunities.
DAVID SKORTON: Philanthropy is the edge for excellence that allows some schools, like Cornell, to dream just a little bit bigger, to reach just a little bit farther.
JOHN DYSON: So his view was that, by doing that, you could expand people's horizons for years and years.
ROBERT DYSON: From his immigrant roots, from my mother's immigrant roots, that it was-- the idea was to give back, to participate actively in this country.
LEIGH DYSON GELLER: I always admired how my grandfather really helped other people.
PETER DYSON: The whole idea of honesty, integrity, hard work.
HAROLD TANNER: He was a man of principle, a man of discipline, a man of intellect, and a very strong family man.
JOHN MORAN: Everybody loved Charlie Dyson. He was a man of great integrity, very generous, had a heart of gold.
ELIZABETH RAWLINGS: And I found him to be a dignified and gracious gentleman who knew how to put me at my ease.
ROBERT DYSON: He clearly got along exceedingly well with people.
JOHN MORAN: He just had a way about him that made people comfortable.
CHARLES DYSON: My father was a carpenter who was from England, and my mother was from Northern Ireland. The Irish end of it was the mother had the drive, and Dad had the good judgment. So I got the two of them.
Well, I just led the normal life as a kid growing up out there. At the age of 10, I had heard the kids talking about the golf course [INAUDIBLE] caddie and earn some money. So I went down there one Saturday, and I came home $0.75, which I thought was all the money in the world.
JOHN DYSON: He graduated from high school in 1929, and right after he graduated, the economy, of course, collapsed in the Great Depression. So dad had to go to work. Indeed, when I went to Cornell, he dropped me off at the dorms when I was a freshman, and slapped me on the back, and he said, well, son, this is terrific. What a great country we have. You get to go to a day school. I had to go to school at night.
CHARLES DYSON: It wasn't popular to go to school at night. That's one thing that wasn't popular at all. Those who could afford it went at day, and those of us who couldn't, got our education at night. That's what I did.
LEIGH DYSON GELLER: Even without him saying it, I always knew the importance of hard work.
PETER DYSON: Get a haircut. Make sure your shoes are polished. Show up on time. Be the first one in, and the last one out.
ROBERT DYSON: He was of intensely practical man.
LEIGH DYSON GELLER: He was so even. He was always-- for me at least, he was always so even-keeled.
ROBERT DYSON: While he was a partner at Price Waterhouse, he received a phone call to join a group that was putting together the accounting procedures and the procurement procedures for Lend-Lease. The 8th of December, 1941, we declared war. Dad was immediately conscripted as a lieutenant in the army in the Pentagon.
CHARLES DYSON: General Carter who was the senior partner at [INAUDIBLE] called me, and he said, I don't know you, but I know of you. There's a job down in Washington to do, he said, and I think you can do it.
JOHN DYSON: And he ended up running all of the material supply for the Army Air Corps right through the end of the war.
ROBERT DYSON: He, among four or five other men, set up the whole system. They also set up the system to renegotiate prices to make sure that there wasn't any unfair war profiteering among various defense contractors that were supplying the United States with their needed war materials.
JOHN DYSON: He started a policy, which has carried on to this day.
JOHN MORAN: He was the delegate at the Bretton Woods conference after the war to establish the International Monetary Fund.
JOHN DYSON: He was then about 30, and looking back on it he said, we were just a bunch of kids writing this stuff, and we had no idea what turned out to be as important as it did. As a result, he ended up being a full colonel and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.
ROBERT DYSON: And it was a combination of all of that service that he gave and the effectiveness that he had in leading all of that that enabled him to be bestowed with the second highest honor that the country can give any citizen.
CHARLES DYSON: It was quite an honor when I look back on it, and it was great satisfaction. We were a bunch of 30-year-olds, 29-year-olds, who were just taking things in our hands and doing the job. We really weren't aware as how important it would be.
PETER DYSON: His first company, which I-- company by the name of Hubbard Tool, he bought from two sisters.
JOHN MORAN: He saw a lot of extra cash. He saw a great balance sheet. He saw good earnings. He saw no debt.
JOHN DYSON: Dad knew the head of the bank. Very famous banker named Sergey Klimenko.
JOHN MORAN: Borrowed the entire purchase price from First National Bank of Boston.
PETER DYSON: $4 million for the loan and $600,000 of working capital, and he put up $8,000 of his own money. Three years, however, after they sold the Ford, so they could afford to pay the obstetrician bill for me.
JOHN MORAN: He was a pioneer in the leveraged buyout business. In fact, maybe the first one.
PETER DYSON: The boldness, I guess is the word I'd use, that Charlie had about taking an idea that he had, of borrowing against the assets of a company to get a loan for it, and using that as the collateral for the loan-- that's what put he and that whole industry on the map.
JOHN DYSON: That was his start in 1954, and he went on and just did company after company in that way, all on a friendly basis.
PETER DYSON: It was a pretty staggering string of successes, and the failures that did take place were-- I won't say insignificant, but the failures that did take place were recoverable.
CHARLES DYSON: I owned my own business. And that kept me fairly busy. And I really did have a lot of [INAUDIBLE] when I think about it. I just got it done. That's all.
JOHN MORAN: Somehow, because of his involvement with a couple of organizations that were more bipartisan, the group in Washington, Nixon's staff, thought that they-- this so-called Enemies List. Stupid name to put on a list like this. A lot of prominent people. Charlie wasn't the only one.
JOHN DYSON: Everybody called from every news media across the world practically. Why would a Republican businessman end up on Nixon's Enemies List? And we were talking about David Brinkley and Walter Cronkite and all kinds of people who had called personally. So I said, well, what should I say? And he said, just tell them that being on Nixon's Enemies List is an endorsement for good standards.
ROBERT DYSON: I think my mother had a major contribution to my father's success.
PETER DYSON: I don't know, from conversations with Charlie years ago, whether he could have done it alone if he didn't have Margaret sort of encouraged him on when things didn't go well.
ROBERT DYSON: She was not only right behind him, she was beside him in every sense of the word.
PETER DYSON: Keeping Charlie on the straight and narrow, being supportive, being coaching in the background.
JOHN DYSON: The early years, when they got into charitable giving, she was always involved with what should be the cause and to whom should they give. Very early on, he focused on helping kids go to college in the daytime.
CRAIG YUNKER: I remember having this discussion with my family about the generosity and the leadership of the Dyson family that enabled me to go to school, and probably because I went to school, my children were able to. And that influenced us, that pay it back attitude, influenced us to create the Yunker Family Fund for Excellence here at [INAUDIBLE], and we're proud of that. But it was the leadership and the example set by Charles Dyson that I think influenced us to do that.
JULIA BERAZNEVA: In all parts of the world, you meet AEM alums, and they're also proud of their alma mater. And they're happy to come back. They're happy to give, and I think I'll be honored to join the ranks one day.
HUNTER RAWLINGS: Cornell is an unusual institution in that it is a private university, but it has very close connections to the state of New York. It is New York's land grant institution, and as such, it owes special service to the people of New York. And certainly through this program, the Dyson Program, we're going to be able to realize that because many of these students will go out and offer service to the state and the nation and even to the world.
MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ: There are more aspects to business than simply finance or simply numbers. It's about the community. It's about giving back. It's about really understanding what makes a great economy, a great set of values.
LOREN TAUER: We want them to have a much broader education than just the ability to be successful as businesspeople. We want them to also be good citizens of the world and, basically, participate in helping to solve many of the problems facing the world today.
SUSAN HENRY: The Dyson School is not just composed of an undergraduate business program. It is a program that has multiple components, including a number of graduate programs associated with it.
JULIA BERAZNEVA: Our applied research goes on in such different fields as environmental and resource economics, agricultural finance, food security issues, poverty alleviation, agricultural economics domestically and internationally. But everybody is committed to contribute in and solve in the real world issues right now, and that's quite unique about our department.
DAVID SKORTON: The underlying concept, the motivation, the strong, strong devotion and commitment to not only teach the fundamental and classical arts of inquiry in a university, but to apply the knowledge that results from that inquiry for the greater good, and Cornell and the Dyson family both are great examples of that.
SUSAN HENRY: It's just an enormous benefit to have such a family associated with this program, and the level of ethics and involvement that it represents is immeasurable.
DAVID SKORTON: This kind of philanthropy will allow us to maintain that edge of excellence, to continue that ripple effect both across society right now and out into the future. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dyson family.
JOHN MORAN: I get very emotional when I think about Charlie. He was a person that gave back, and that's what I'm going to do. Just follow his example.
[CHIMING OF CHURCH BELLS]
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A film produced for the dedication of the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management on Oct. 1, 2010.
Established through a $25 million gift from the family of John Dyson '65, the new school is named for Dyson's father to recognize his contributions to American business and his lifelong commitment to education.
Charles Dyson, the son of immigrants, had to forego a scholarship to Columbia to help his family earn a living during the Great Depression, but went on to earn a college degree at night, serve in the military and work for the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where he helped organize the International Monetary Fund. He later co-founded Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corp., which became one of the largest privately held companies in the country and was a pioneer in the field of leveraged buyouts.