H. Milton “Milt” Stewart, IE 1961, is the retired chairman and CEO of Standard Group (formerly Standard Telephone Company), based in Cornelia, Georgia. His father, H.M. Stewart Sr., purchased the company in 1939, and he began working as an engineer there in 1961. In 1969, he became president of the company, and in 1987 co-founded the Standard Group, which expanded into other telecommunications areas including cable television and Internet service. In 1998, Alltel purchased the Standard Group and Stewart retired. He has received numerous honors from his alma mater, including being named to the ISyE Academy of Distinguished Alumni in 1995 and to the Engineering Hall of Fame in 2000. He was named a College of Engineering Distinguished Alumnus in 1995 and received the J.M. Pettit Distinguished Service Award in 2007. Stewart is trustee emeritus of the Georgia Tech Foundation and past president and former trustee of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association. He and his wife, Carolyn, who was named an Honorary Alumna in 2008, are members of The Hill Society. The Stewarts reside in Vero Beach, Florida. Their two children, Jeb M. Stewart, Class of 1991, and Jill S. Archer, MGMT 1993, followed in their father’s footsteps to North Avenue.
CQ: The Stewart School has been the top ranked graduate program in industrial and systems engineering for 24 consecutive years. The undergraduate program has been ranked number one for 20 years in a row. As an alumnus, how proud are you of this accomplishment?
MS & CS: Extremely proud! Number one status is not easily attained or retained. Holding at number one for a quarter of a century is no small feat and reflects dynamic teamwork for which everyone associated with Georgia Tech should be justly proud. Our outstanding faculty, bright students, excellent leadership, and highly supportive alumni give us an important edge in the continuing competition to be the very best. And certainly not to be overlooked are all those who elevated ISyE to the top many years ago. It is a testament to their dedication and achievement that ISyE has maintained that distinction for 24 years.
CQ: The Stewart School surpassed its $60million goal for Campaign Georgia Tech at the end of 2013, making it the first engineering school to reach its campaign goal. What motivates you to support Georgia Tech, and what would you say to others who are thinking about giving for the first time?
MS & CS: Industrial (and Systems) Engineering has been very special to our family. Aside from being proud of School achievements, we find that ISyE has been a large part of our business, professional, and academic life. The diversity of training has served us well, as it has for a great many ISyE alumni. Those who have been through the Georgia Tech “boot camp” appreciate what it has done for us in developing our mental skills and personal character. Giving something back is a privilege as well as a pleasure.
CQ: Your son and daughter went to Georgia Tech, and they both married Georgia Tech alumni. Do you see gold and white in your grandchildren’s future? What are your aspirations for Tech and what it will look like for their generation, and for the generations that follow?
MS & CS: We’ve been blessed with four wonderful grandchildren, two of whom will be entering college in 2016. They are all huge Tech fans, but we cannot say at this time where they will attend college. That depends on their individual interests, aptitudes, and opportunities. At this point, they all have their eye on Georgia Tech and it certainly doesn’t hurt that Tech provides the best education for the cost that you will find anywhere. As for our aspirations for Tech, we would be happy simply to see more of the same growth in quality and quantity. The Georgia Tech of today is a great place to be in the 21st century. Still, there is always room for improvement and we have every confidence that Tech will keep on getting better.
CQ: What is your favorite memory related to Georgia Tech?
MS & CS: This is a tough question, because there have been so many great Tech memories. We have enjoyed sporting events, the Alumni Association, the Foundation, the alumni travel program, wonderful Tech friends, and the list goes on.
MS: Probably one that brings me the greatest nostalgia, however, is working as a student for Colonel Groseclose in the IE office. The Colonel was a wonderful man, and it was his leadership that got the School off to such a good start. I still think of him often.
CQ: Through your philanthropy, you established the first endowed School Chair at Georgia Tech and later made a commitment to name the entire Stewart School. As H. Edwin Romeijn, the new holder of the H. Milton and Carolyn J. Stewart School Chair, takes his post in January, what well wishes or advice would you give him?
MS & CS: We’re honored to be a small part of the ISyE success story that was written by so many alumni and faculty through support from the College of Engineering, Georgia Tech, and the State of Georgia. We express our gratitude to all previous ISyE school chairs and feel fortunate to have known them personally: Colonel Groseclose; Professors Lehrer, Thomas, Jarvis, Rouse, and White; and Tech alumna Jane Ammons, our most recent ISyE school chair. Now we extend a warm welcome to Dr. Romeijn and wish him great success at Georgia Tech. He will be among excellent company.