Skip to main content
FALL 2010
Print Bookmark and Share

End Note

The Naming of the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

By Emily Hopkins

Warren Hall
Bee Database
Charles H. Dyson

In June 2010, the Dyson family and Charles H. Dyson’s former business partner John Moran announced a gift of $25 million to create the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The gift honors the patriarch of the Dyson family: Charles H. Dyson, a financier and philanthropist who died in 1997.

Dyson’s values of hard work and innovative but steadfast financial acumen and business management will be associated with the school, which has been steadily rising in undergraduate business program rankings since it was accredited back in 1992.

Born in New York City in 1909 to immigrant parents, Dyson attended night school at what is now Pace University. “It was not popular at the time to go to school at night,” said Dyson, in an interview in 1987, “but it was during the Depression.” Dyson worked days to help support his family and studied accounting and business law at night.

After college, Dyson went to work for Price Waterhouse, but, in 1939, was recruited by the U.S. Army Air Corps to help organize Lease-Lend—the program that distributed war materials to the allied nations. Following that, he worked for the U.S. Treasury and was one of the architects of the International Monetary Fund. For his wartime service, Dyson received a Distinguished Service Medal and was made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

“We were just a bunch of kids,” Dyson said. “We had no idea it would last as long as it did.”

His wartime experiences gave Dyson a taste for management and a critical network of contacts. In 1954, with only $8,000 of his own money, he was able to buy a company, borrowing $4.6 million based on the assets of the company, in what we know now as one of the first leveraged buyouts. Dyson went on to secure several companies using the same business concept, thereby launching the Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation, after taking on as business partners, his longtime friend Frank Kissner in 1957, followed 10 years later by John Moran.

The Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation became one of the largest private corporations in the U.S. and a pioneer in leveraged buyouts.

Even before he became successful, Dyson and his wife, Margaret, started to “give back.” Establishing the Dyson Foundation in the early ’50s, the Dysons’ philanthropy extended from Pace University, to Greer Children’s Services, the American Ballet Theater, and the Metropolitan Opera, to name a few.

Dyson did not only lend his name and his pocketbook to the boards on which he served, he lent his considerable organizational leadership. Among other things, he is credited for helping to guide Pace from a technical institute into a college and then a university.

In 1973, Dyson, a lifelong Republican, made No. 5 on Richard Nixon’s infamous “enemies list.”

“Tell them, it is an endorsement for good standards,” quipped Dyson, when his son John asked what he should tell the press.

Dyson’s relentless hard work, steadiness, and no-nonsense demeanor were legendary, and are remembered fondly by his friends and family. “Get a haircut, shine your shoes, be the first one in, and the last one out,” recalls his son Peter of his dad’s advice.

The Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management’s internationally renowned areas of expertise in food and agricultural economics, management science, environmental and resource economics, and international and development economics work in concert to fulfill the school’s mission to inform and foster the public stewardship and private management of businesses, organizations, livelihoods, and natural resources.