Robert Alan Pritzker accomplished nearly everything possible at IIT, including earning a B.S. in Industrial Engineering (1946), an honorary doctorate (1984), teaching night classes and serving on the Board of Trustees.
A Chicago native, Pritzker entered California Institute of Technology as an engineering student before transferring to IIT to complete his undergraduate studies. Pritzker later completed graduate-level business and industrial administration courses as the University of Illinois. His commitment to education led him to teach at IIT, the University of Chicago and as a visiting professor at Oxford University in England.
Pritzker was a member of a prominent family in American business and philanthropy. In 1954 he became president of the Colson Company, manufacturer of industrial and institutional casters and wheeled equipment. His leadership led to the acquisition of other companies, which in 1964 were merged under the name The Marmon Group. Over the years, he also has served on the board of directors of several institutions.
Pritzker began serving on the IIT Board of Trustees in 1962 and became chairman in 1990. In that role, he presided over the transformation and re-invigoration of the university. In 1980, Pritzker's foresight and financial support led to the creation of the Pritzker Institute for Medical Engineering, the focal point of IIT's biomedical engineering program. In 1996, he and fellow trustee, former Motorola CEO Robert Galvin, each made a $60 million pledge to initiate the successful $250 million IIT Challenge Campaign—at the time the largest charitable pledge ever made to a single Chicago-area institution. Those generous pledges have had far-reaching effects on the university, its academic programs, facilities and endowment.
In 2002, Pritzker was inducted into the IIT Hall of Fame. In 2005 he became one of three persons promoted to the newly-established position of University Regent, reserved for trustees whose contributions have changed the course of the university.