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Syracuse University uses “major gift” to establish five-year dual degree in business administration, engineering

By Eric Reinhardt


john riley donation
John Riley, who graduated from Syracuse University in 1961 and is now a university trustee, and his wife, Diane, donated a “major gift” the school to establish a dual degree program in business administration and engineering. (Photo credit: Alexander’s Fine Portrait Design of Houston, Texas, Syracuse University website)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse University will use a “major gift” to establish a new, dual degree program that allows students to earn a dual degree in business administration and engineering.

Under the program, students can pursue a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from the Martin J. Whitman School of Management and a bachelor’s degree from the College of Engineering and Computer Science “in just five years,” according to a news release posted Wednesday on the university website.

John Riley, a Syracuse native who graduated from Syracuse University in 1961 and who now serves as a university trustee, and his wife, Diane, provided the funding.

The couple endowed the H. John and Diane M. Riley Dual Engineering/MBA program. The university didn’t disclose the amount of the donation.

Besides his service as a trustee, Riley has also been a member of the board’s student-affairs committee and led and served on the board of large corporations, Syracuse said

Along the way, Riley has kept a “watchful eye for ways the university can empower students and fill needs in the marketplace.”

“Diane and I put careful thought into our charitable gifts,” Riley said in the release. “The same is true of our support of the engineering/MBA program, which provides an interdisciplinary education that we believe will distinguish graduates in the marketplace. I would say there are few engineering graduates who spend their career doing only design. Perhaps they manage projects, help with business development or start their own firm. Whatever the case, having technical skills and business training will prepare them to make an immediate impact on any organization. We are happy to support this program and look forward to learning of its graduates’ success for years to come.”


About the Rileys

After graduating from Syracuse University in 1961, John Riley took a position in the manufacturing training program at General Electric (GE). He would move to Iowa and Ohio before the program brought him “back home” to Central New York, Syracuse said.

Though he and Diane grew up 10 blocks from one another, they began dating just before John graduated from Syracuse. They were married in 1963 after he returned to Syracuse with GE.

Riley eventually left GE for a position with Crouse-Hinds, a Syracuse–based electrical-products manufacturer and eventually had to move to Charlottesville, Virginia in the late 1970s.

When Cooper Industries, a maker of oil-field products, tools, and hardware, bought Crouse-Hinds in 1982, John Riley became head of Cooper’s newly acquired electrical business, requiring a move to Houston, Texas, per the release.

By 1992, Riley had become president and COO of Cooper Industries and was named CEO and chairman of the board in 1996.

At the time of his retirement in 2006, the company employed more than 25,000 people at 100 locations around the world.


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