January 27, 2006

Great American Business Leader Graham, namesake of the Graham School of General Studies, dead at 94

William B. Graham, U of C alumnus and long-time CEO at Baxter International, died of heart failure on January 24, in Kenilworth, Illinois. He was 94.

A noted Chicago philanthropist, Graham and his wife made a $10 million gift to the University in 1997. The Center of Continuing Studies was renamed the William B. and Catherine V. Graham School of General Studies in their honor. The continuing studies program, founded in 1892 by University President William Rainey Harper with programs in higher education, the professions, business, government, the arts, and civic affairs, was taught by University faculty to post-collegiate adults.

Graham graduated from the University with an B.S. in chemistry in 1932. He finished first in his class and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi. Graham studied under Nobel Laureate Harold Urey in his two years as a graduate student in chemistry at the University before he went on to the University of Chicago Law School and completed his J.D. in 1936.

Graham was a lecturer at the University of Chicago in 1981, and he has been a Life Trustee of the University since that time.

He practiced patent law until joining Baxter International Inc. in 1945, a company that assists healthcare professionals with treatment of patients with complex medical conditions. During Graham’s 30-year term as CEO, Baxter developed many groundbreaking therapies, including the first artificial kidney, the first plastic blood-collection system, and the first clotting factor for people with hemophilia.

Harvard Business School includes Graham in their online database, Great American Business Leaders of the 20th Century.

The Baxter International Foundation allocated a $50,000 annual award in his memory, entitled “The William B. Graham Prize for Health Services Research.” This lifetime achievement award is given to one researcher who has made major contributions to public health.