Mike Messner Selected as Commencement Speaker; Earns Honorary Degree

Friday, 12 May 2023

Mike Messner, CE 76, received an honorary PhD from Georgia Tech, the highest honor that the Institute can confer to an individual.

Messner is a prominent alumnus who has become a professor of the practice and an active supporter of Georgia Tech since retiring from the finance industry.

“We are very proud to bestow Georgia Tech’s honorary degree to Mike Messner for his unyielding commitment and service to our Institute,” said Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera. “With this honor, we recognize your leadership, scholarship and contributions to Georgia Tech, the city of Atlanta, the state of Georgia, and beyond.”

After receiving the honorary degree, Messner delivered the address to graduates at the Spring PhD Commencement Ceremony on May 5. He shared words of wisdom with PhD candidates about the skills he gained from his education at Georgia Tech.

“Georgia Tech trained me as a civil engineer, but the school also provided me with analytical and problem-solving skills,” he said. “That background enabled me to adapt as life led me down different career paths.”

Messner notes that one undergraduate course – engineering economics – is what gave him the knowledge and confidence to make the leap from the railroad industry into a job at an investment firm.

“While I had never invested in stocks before, I had taken engineering economics at Tech, so I knew how to value cash flows,” he said.

Messner began his career in the railroad industry before pivoting to finance and co-founding Seminole Management in 1995. In 21 of 23 years as Seminole’s CIO, the firm’s assets totaled over $3 billion.

He is currently a Professor of the Practice for the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Scheller College of Business, where he teaches courses on management and civil engineering. Messner is a strong supporter of CEE and started the Messner Faculty Endowment Challenge, which helped fund new endowed professorships and chairs to support faculty recruitment and retention.

Mike Messner delivers the Spring 2023 PhD Commencment Speech

Messner delivered the Spring 2023 PhD Commencement Speech on May 5.

Left to right: GT Provost Steve McLaughlin, Mike Messner, GT President Ángel Cabrera

Mike Messner (center) receives an honorary doctorate from Georgia Tech, flanked by Provost Steve McLaughlin and President Ángel Cabrera.

Messner is passionate about public parks and funded Tech research showing the positive effects of increasing greenspaces in U.S. cities. He serves on the board of the City Parks Alliance, the Drexel Education Fund, and the Piedmont Park Conservancy.

In 2001, Messner and his wife, Jenny, created the Speedwell Foundation to assist with funding for education and study abroad programs in urban areas. The Messners donated a sizeable gift to the G. Wayne Clough Georgia Tech Promise scholarship fund and continue to support the program that provides a debt-free education to qualifying students from low-income Georgia families.

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