Ohio Wesleyan was proud to host esteemed alumnus Louis A. Simpson ’58 as a guest speaker for the 2013 Robert L. Milligan Leaders in Business Lecture on Thursday, October 3. Simpson is the current Chairman of SQ Advisors LLC (a company he co-founded with his wife, Kimberly Querrey). He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan in 1958 with a double-major in economics and accounting. He also received his Master’s degree in economics from Princeton University and then took on a faculty position there for several years before serving as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Capital Operations for GEICO from 1993 to 2010. This was Simpson’s third time giving a Milligan Leaders in Business Lecture, with his first dating back to March of 1943.
The evening began with a welcome from economics professor Alice Simon, the James Heisler Professor of Economics as well as the Louis A. Simpson ’58 Endowed Faculty Director of the Woltemade Center for Economics, Business, and Entrepreneurship which was made possible by Simpson’s recent $2 million gift to the University. Simon thanked him for that as well as for his vision and continuous support of OWU. President Rock Jones then presented Simpson with the highest form of recognition: an Ohio Wesleyan honorary degree-Doctorate of Laws—as approved by OWU’s faculty and the members of the Board of Trustees. Jones quoted Simpson who has said that out of all of his investments, his most precious one was his liberal arts education that he received at Ohio Wesleyan.
“Lou Simpson’s professional business savvy is matched by (his) understanding of the goals of OWU,” said Jones. “He is a savvy investor with a keen intellect and a kind, generous heart and the embodiment of OWU’s vision for world leaders. “ Simpson has been a role model for many OWU students as well.
As Jason Downey ’02 took the stage, he shared with the audience that he had been so inspired by Simpson’s lecture 14 years ago, that Downey is now not only a Board of Trustees member, but also a research analyst and sector leader at Diamond Hill Capital Management. His advice to current students in the audience? “Pay close attention. Mr. Simpson gives good advice.”
During Simpson’s lecture, titled “Corporate America-to Rent or to Own?” he emphasized that the best way to attract investors was to simply do a good job running the company as well as the benefits of short term revenue over larger, more grandiose investments. He warned against taking in purely short-term goals and urged the audience to look at long-term investments and successes.
Simpson stressed the huge significance of culture within a company and to look for those who do more than just “talk the talk”.
The evening ended with a few questions from the audience including several alumni and current economic/business students) as well as old friends of Simpson’s and several of Robert Milligan’s family members all there to celebrate the continued success of their grandfather’s legacy.