Boston, Massachusetts may seem like a world away from Corvallis, Oregon, but Honors College Board of Regents member Andy Bartmess has always remained connected to his undergraduate years at Oregon State University.
“I really value my OSU experience. It made a big difference in my life.” Andy says. “As a result, I have tried to stay involved and do what I can to see that the university continues to give students the sorts of wonderful opportunities it gave me.”
Andy grew up in Eugene and graduated from Oregon State with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering in 1982. During his time in Corvallis, he participated in the OSU honors program. This program, which offered unique course and thesis opportunities, ran from 1962-1991, preceding the founding of the Honors College in 1995. After graduation, he went to work for IBM in Tucson, Arizona. After seven years there in engineering and management positions, Andy faced the prospect of losing his job when the global economy took a downward turn. He was left with a choice of either moving to another position within IBM or taking a severance package and leaving the company.
“Sometimes a traumatic event in your life can present new opportunities, if you look for them,” Andy says. “I always wanted to go to business school at Harvard, but I had a family, and I didn’t know how that could happen.”
Now, though, it seemed possible. He took the severance package, moved to Boston to attend Harvard, and graduated with his MBA in 1991. After several years with Deloitte Consulting, Andy joined a client, Dawson Forte Cashmere, a wholesale apparel company. In June, 2014, he and several partners bought the company.
When he looked to give back to his alma mater, Andy’s experience in the honors program played a decisive role. “I was a first-generation college student,” he says. “I was really naïve and unsure. My experiences at OSU in the engineering program and in the honors program were very important to me.”
Andy sees the Honors College as an expanded version of the honors program that was so central to his own development as a student, and he hopes to help it continue to grow and strengthen.
“What Dean Toni Doolen has done has been tremendous,” Andy says. “The sort of education that the Honors College provides can be a transformative experience. “
His goal is to ensure that every student accepted to the Honors College has the financial means to attend.
“Anyone who has the capability and is qualified for the Honors College should be able to participate,” Andy says. “Everyone should have access to the full Honors College experience.”
To Andy, that full experience includes undergraduate research and study abroad.
“I would like the Board of Regents to continue to support the Honors College in building on the international projects and study abroad opportunities that will enhance what’s already a world-class educational experience.”
By Emma-Kate Schaake