Internet Technology Pioneer to Speak at Ohio Wesleyan Graduation Ceremony

George H. Conrades, OWU Class of 1961, to Address Class of 2013 at May 12 Commencement
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George Conrades ’61. (Photo by Sara Blake)

George Conrades ’61. (Photo by Sara Blake)

DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan University alumnus and Internet technology pioneer George H. Conrades, Class of 1961, will deliver the keynote address at the university’s 169th commencement ceremony May 12.

Conrades is the former chief executive officer and current chairman of Massachusetts-based Akamai Technologies Inc., which helps enterprises provide their customers with secure, high-performing cloud connections on any device, anywhere.

Ohio Wesleyan’s 2013 commencement ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. May 12 in Phillips Glen outside of Phillips Hall, 50 S. Henry St., Delaware. The event also will be streamed live online at StreamOWU.

Zeke Brechtel, Ohio Wesleyan’s 2013 senior class president, said Conrades provides an inspiring example of the power and potential of an OWU education.

“When you stream videos, interact with friends on a social network, or purchase items over the Internet – daily activities for most college students – the digital content is often delivered by the company chaired by our speaker,” said Brechtel, a physics major and mathematics minor from Arvada, Colo.

Brechtel also points out that Conrades spent 31 years with IBM, serving in senior management roles in the United States and abroad, and “he accomplished all this as a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan – just like we will be soon.”

At Ohio Wesleyan, Conrades majored in physics and mathematics. He later earned his Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. At IBM, he served in roles including as the head of IBM United States, for which he led the creation of IBM Services. He also established IBM’s Asia/Pacific headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, enabling the region to attain record growth in revenues and earnings. For his efforts, Conrades earned the title of IBM Senior Vice President and membership on IBM’s Corporate Management Board.

In 1992, he left IBM to become chief executive officer of Bolt, Beranek & Newman, whose engineers helped to create Arpanet, the forerunner of today’s Internet, in the late 1960s. Capitalizing on BBN’s internet-related core competencies, Conrades helped the company to become one of the world’s largest Internet service providers in the 1990s. When BBN was acquired by GTE, Conrades was named executive vice president and then president of GTE Internetworking.

In August 1998, Conrades joined Polaris Venture Partners, a partnership of early stage investors with a history of backing successful entrepreneurs in companies developing information and medical technology. One of those was Akamai Technologies, and soon after the company’s founding, he became chairman and CEO. He continues to work with and invest in early stage companies, especially those related to the Internet and electronic commerce.

Conrades also is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and serves on the boards of directors for Oracle, Harley-Davidson, and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals.

In addition, he and his wife, Patricia “Patsy” Belt Conrades, Class of 1963, are both Ohio Wesleyan Life Trustees, and they are longtime supporters of and contributors to the university, providing a lead gift for construction of OWU’s state-of-the-art Schimmel/Conrades Science Center, which opened in 2004. The 150,000-square-foot center is home to Ohio Wesleyan’s departments of botany/microbiology, chemistry, geology and geography, mathematics and computer science, physics and astronomy, and zoology. It also houses the university’s environmental studies, pre-health studies, and urban studies programs. The couple also provided funds to support and enhance the university’s David O. Robbins Neuroscience Program. They are the parents of Ohio Wesleyan alumnae Laura Conrades Wilson, Class of 1988, and Anna Conrades, Class of 2003.

In 2001, George Conrades was awarded an Ohio Wesleyan Distinguished Achievement Citation for his lifetime of success. According to the citation: “The word Akamai is Hawaiian for ‘intelligent, cool, or clever.’ [The university joins] in saluting him for his achievement in the field of business and for being one of Ohio Wesleyan’s most ‘Akamai’ alumni!”


Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities. Ohio Wesleyan offers more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. OWU combines an internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that connect classroom theory with real-world practice. Located in Delaware, Ohio, OWU’s 1,850 students represent 41 states and 45 countries. The university is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at www.owu.edu.

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