The College of Management at Lawrence Technological University opened its new Hall of Fame on May 9 with the induction of the inaugural class consisting of three administrators – Catherine Lawrence Graeffe, Edwin “Doc” Graeffe, and Leland Lahr – and alumnus Keith Pratt.
LTU President Virinder Moudgil and College of Management Dean Bahman Mirshab presided over the ceremony to unveil the Hall of Fame display in the hallway outside the dean’s office.
The new inductees were introduced by Associate Professors Jackie Stavros and Patty Castelli, the dean, and Louis Petro, another former dean of the College of Management.
Longtime LTU supporter Catie Burke attended the ceremony on behalf of her deceased parents, Edwin and Catherine Graeffe, who both played key roles in the founding of the University and the College of Management.
Following lunch Lahr, who was the second dean of the College after Graeffe, provided a sample of his lecture style that was both humorous and inspirational. Burke spoke about her parents and the early days of the University, and Dennis Howie, vice president of University Advancement, spoke on behalf of Pratt, who was unable to attend the ceremony.
Here are brief biographies of the four Hall of Fame inductees:
Catherine Lawrence Graeffe (1905-96)
The sister of Lawrence Tech founders Russell and E. George Lawrence, Catherine Lawrence Graeffe was an integral part of the creation and success of the Lawrence Institute of Technology. The first signatory on the original articles of incorporation, she, along with her husband, Edwin O. Graeffe, was also a financial backer of the new university.
Graeffe dedicated her skills and knowledge to the start-up institution. She helped register new students, process bills, and manage financial accounts. Upon the completion of her studies in library science, she worked in the Lawrence Tech library and helped convert the library’s catalog system from the Dewey Decimal to the Library of Congress Classification system. She didn’t accept a paycheck until after she became a librarian.
Her tireless and ingenious efforts are reflected today in the astounding success of Lawrence Tech.
Edwin O. “Doc” Graeffe (1900-72)
The founding dean of the College of Management, Edwin O. Graeffe served Lawrence Tech for 40 years. He helped assure the University’s successful opening and continued to serve in a number of positions until his death.
Affectionately called “Doc” Graeffe, he was a larger-than-life figure to the students he encountered – which during his tenure was literally the entire student body. As early alumni return for campus reunions, it is invoking Graeffe’s name that most often opens a floodgate of happy memories.
Brussels-born and German-educated, Graeffe earned a doctor of law degree from the University of Tübingen and then joined the import-export business in 1920s Hong Kong. Work with Kelvinator brought him to Detroit. A faculty appointment in business and law at the University of Detroit introduced him to Russell Lawrence, who was then the University of Detroit dean of engineering, and his brother, George. That acquaintanceship led him to meet and soon thereafter marry Russell and George’s sister, Catherine. As supporters of Russell’s dream to launch the University in 1932, the couple contributed the bulk of their life savings to the effort.
Graeffe’s booming voice, accent, saber scars, and worldly and urbane countenance made a lasting impression on generations of students. He used his broad experiences to expose them to global culture and international business practices. Graeffe was also very involved as advisor to numerous student clubs and participated in campus events, often as the master of ceremonies or keynote speaker. He coached fencing (student Bill Osis made the 1940 Olympic team), and founded and directed the student band in 1933. He served as first dean of what is today the College of Management, 1949-54, and again in 1965-70, and also served as what is today the University’s chief academic position known as provost, 1956-64.
Leland A. Lahr
In his mid-20s, Leland “Lee” Lahr helped launch and run a firm that grew in four years to claim 40 percent of a major market in the Midwest. Selling to business owners taught him the importance of preparing individuals to go into business before they actually open the doors of their companies. He switched careers and moved into academia at Lawrence Technological University, where he could help his students understand what it takes to run a company effectively.
For over 30 years, Lahr helped hundreds of students at Lawrence Tech prepare to start their own companies and thrive in the business world. He published a book on the subject, “Minding Your Own Business: Prepare to Run One,” in 2011.
Lahr began his long career at LTU as an instructor in the School of Business and Industrial Management, later the College of Management, in 1964. In 1970, he became dean of the college, succeeding Edwin O. Graeffe upon his retirement. Lahr served until 1979, when he returned to teaching.
Lahr specialized in teaching marketing and management and initiated an entrepreneurship and small business program in the college. Starting as a series of seminars in 1974, the program was expanded into a number of courses in 1979.
Lahr “retired” and was named professor emeritus of management in 1995. He continued to serve the College of Management in a variety of roles. In 2005, the College presented him a certificate of appreciation “in recognition of 41 years of distinguished service to Lawrence Technological University, to higher education, and to the growth and development of leaders. As a professor, dean, and ambassador for the College of Management, your innovations, wise counsel, enthusiasm, and steadfast dedication to excellence have inspired all who know you.”
Keith T. Pratt, BSIM’82
Components created by Keith T. Pratt’s companies have been used on Mars, in the Hubble Space Telescope, and in artificial hearts. In 1993, Pratt founded Panda Precision Inc. and then acquired Schwartz Industries, calling his new venture Shared Vision LLC. Based in Warren, Michigan, the company produced precision machined parts and sub-assemblies for clients in the aerospace, automotive, defense, heavy equipment, and medical industries.
Pratt grew up on Long Island in New York. He moved to Detroit to work for General Motors, where he held positions in product development, emissions, testing, and advanced vehicle engineering at the GM Tech Center and Proving Grounds. He also has worked for IBM. He has enjoyed success in automobile racing, competing in road racing and Funny Car drag racing circuits.
Pratt sold his business in 2013, but has remained very active in working to improve higher education. He is a major Lawrence Tech donor and has served on the Presidential and Dean of Engineering Search Committees. He also serves his alma mater on the campaign steering committees for the College Entrepreneur Organization (CEO) and Lawrence Tech’s Proud Heritage, Bold Future Capital Campaign. He is a member of the board of directors of The Legends, LTU’s organization of entrepreneurial alumni committed to fostering and enhancing the entrepreneurial mindset in students. He also has been a presenter for LTU’s Entrepreneurial Lecture Series, and is a charter supporter of the Lawrence Tech Invitational golf outing that provides student scholarship and program support.
He received LTU’s Alumni Achievement Award in 2008.