When considering graduate school through the GI Bill, Michael Teders, MBA’73, realized an MBA would be worthwhile only if he went to a top school.“Chicago was my first choice,” he says. The skills and expertise he learned at Chicago Booth guided him toward a successful career—and a recent decision to give back to the University.
Teders grew up in Pittsburgh, where his father sold Colt firearms to sporting-goods stores and police departments around Pennsylvania.“We had fun going to gun ranges and trying out the new gun models on weekends,” he remembers. A childhood interest in ham radio eventually led to an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1970. He was drafted out of his first engineering job and into the Army for electronics development and testing.
At Chicago Booth, he could measure himself against some of the most capable students and teachers in the world. He was one of a few who concentrated in statistics.“UChicago was a tremendous self-confidence builder,” he says.“I didn’t particularly like stats, but I reasoned that this was a subject that I would never be able to learn by myself later in life.” He explains,“Like many technical courses, statistics was valuable, not because I have ever had to personally execute a Box-Jenkins analysis, but because it taught me to understand the capabilities and limitations of the tools when encountering statistics later on.”
While living in Chicago, Teders also married his high-school sweetheart from Pittsburgh, Fran, who was majoring in biology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.“Enjoying the city with Fran, from the Court Theatre to Second City, is my fondest memory,” he says.
After graduate school, Teders had a few false starts but eventually found a fit with Harris Corporation in Melbourne, Florida. His division made customized control systems for utility companies to manage the electrical grid from centralized locations.“I started as a program manager and was responsible for the implementation of contracts for international customers,” he says. Later, when General Electric acquired Harris’s energy-management systems, Teders moved to the proposal and commercial side of the business.
The work sent him traveling to six continents; Fran occasionally accompanied him on trips to the UK, China, and South Africa. While he worked and traveled, Fran took care of their family.“She characterizes herself as just a ‘typical Pittsburgh housewife,’” he says,“but I call her a saint. While I spent 30 years with GE and Harris traveling around the world, she stayed home and raised four children. Thanks to her mothering, all the kids are now college graduates, have professional careers, and great spouses.” After the kids were grown, Fran took in Teders’s 95-year-old father, who lived to be more than 100 in her care.“Now that I am retired,” Teders jokes,“she takes care of me and the dog.”
Teders retired in December 2012, and already he and Fran have traveled to New York City; Tallahassee, Florida; and South Carolina, and have planned an April trip to Rome and Sardinia. They also travel to visit their children and six grandchildren, who live scattered around the country. Teders, who loves to fly and owns a small plane with a partner, serves as the local coordinator of the Young Eagles, an initiative of the Experimental Aircraft Association in which local pilots take children on free flights. In 2012, the Young Eagles flew about 400 kids from a small local airport in Merritt Island, Florida. Teders also is the assistant treasurer of a local Civil War–era cemetery.
Teders credits Fran’s support and his UChicago education for his rewarding career. When looking to minimize the effects of an early-retirement bonus on his 2012 taxes, he contacted Denise Chan Gans in the University’s Office of Gift Planning. She introduced him to the Charitable Remainder Unitrust (CRUT) and provided details and financial projections tailored to his situation. After consulting with his financial adviser, he found the rates competitive with other commercially available alternatives. In addition to providing long-term benefits to the University, the CRUT offers lifetime income and immediate tax benefits. Giving back to Chicago Booth and the University through a planned gift was both a key objective and a benefit.“Our life experiences,” he says,“were enhanced by the environment of one of the world’s great universities.”
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