C. Jackson Grayson

Former Freeman School Dean C. Jackson Grayson celebrated his 90th birthday with a sky dive. Photo courtesy APQC and Westside Skydivers Houston.

Former Dean C. Jackson Grayson recently celebrated his 90th birthday the way any sensible nonagenarian would: By jumping out of a plane.

Dubbing it his “Freedom to Dream, Courage to Act” jump, Grayson, founder and chairman of the American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) in Houston, took on the birthday challenge to prove that individuals can do anything in life no matter what their age is.

In honor of that remarkable testament to vitality in aging, we thought we’d take a look back at Grayson’s long, fascinating career, which in addition to serving as dean of the Freeman School has included stints as a newspaper reporter, FBI Special Agent, manager of a cotton farm and member of an export-import firm. He even danced with Vivien Leigh at the premiere of “Gone With the Wind” in Atlanta when he was a student at Georgia Military Academy.

Dean C. Jackson Grayson established the Business School Council in 1966.
C. Jackson Grayson served as dean of the Freeman School from 1964 to 1967.

Grayson also holds the distinction of being the only dean of the Freeman School who was also a Tulane graduate. The Fort Necessity, La., native earned his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Tulane in 1944, just five years after the retirement of Morton A. Aldrich, the business school’s first dean.

C. Jackson “Jack” Grayson first joined Tulane in 1947 as an accounting instructor. He left after two years to pursue other interests but was re-hired by Dean Robert French in 1953. In 1959, after earning his DBA from Harvard, Grayson rejoined Tulane’s business school as an associate professor of accounting.

Grayson was serving as an associate dean in 1963 when Howard Schaller, dean of the business school, announced his intention to step down. Schaller had hoped Grayson would take the job, but Grayson had other ideas. He disliked the administrative responsibilities that accompanied being dean and preferred the classroom to the dean’s suite. Eventually, Schaller convinced Grayson to meet with Tulane President Herbert Longenecker to discuss the position, so in anticipation of that meeting, Grayson drew up a long list of conditions under which he’d accept the job in the belief that Longenecker would balk at his demands. To his surprise, Longenecker accepted the conditions, and Grayson became the sixth dean of Tulane’s School of Business Administration on Sept. 1, 1964.

Since 1977, Grayson has led the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC).

An innovative teacher and well-liked among the faculty, Grayson led the business school through a period of significant change. Tulane had eliminated its undergraduate business program in 1962, but the program would not be completely phased out until the last class of undergraduates received their diplomas in May 1967. Much of Grayson’s tenure was devoted to preparations for becoming a graduate-only business school, including working to strengthen the roles of behavioral science, quantitative methods and computerized business games in the curriculum. He was also a major proponent of the case study method and worked to expand its use in the classroom. The business school’s first doctoral program, the Doctor of Business Administration program, was initiated during Grayson’s tenure, and he also established the Business School Council, which continues to serve as the school’s primary external advisory board.

In 1967, Grayson left Tulane to become dean of the business school at Southern Methodist University. In 1971, he was named chairman of the U.S. Price Commission during the period of price-wage controls, serving in the cabinet-level position under President Richard M. Nixon.

Grayson’s experience in Washington helped to make him aware of the importance of productivity to the nation’s economic well-being. In 1977, he founded the American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC), a nonprofit dedicated to helping businesses boost their productivity and quality. Today, at 90 years old, Grayson continues to champion knowledge management and best practices as the organization’s executive chairman.

Each week during our Centennial Celebration, the Freeman School is highlighting some of the well-known and not-so-well-known people who helped to make the first 100 years of business education at Tulane University so special.

One Comment

  1. Rudolph Viener III says:

    Congradulations- I was one of you students back in the mid 50’s and good friends with Jack Robertson. Presently retired from Oiln Corporation after 30 years and Colonel-USAF retired living in Mandeville, LA.

    Rudy Viener

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