October 27, 1997
Volume 50, No. 10
Emory lost a valued friend and mentor with the death of trustee Roberto C. Goizueta, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of The Coca-Cola Company. Goizueta died Saturday, Oct. 18, at Emory Hospital from lung cancer. He was 65.
Goizueta's illness forced him to miss the Sept. 27 dedication of the new building housing the business school named in his honor. The school's faculty, staff and students observed a moment of silence at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 21, the day and time of his funeral.
"Roberto Goizueta embodied a style of leadership that grew out of a blend of deep culture and great discipline," said President Bill Chace. "It was a valuable trait to exhibit among university students, and he did it with zest and grace." It was through Goizueta's leadership that the company's market value increased dramatically, from $4 billion in 1981 to nearly $150 billion. And today one out of every two soft drinks consumed around the world is a Coca-Cola product.
Emory benefited greatly during Goizueta's helm at the soft drink company. Like Coke, the University's "stock," our endowment, rose greatly during his 16-year tenure. He once said his goal was to "create value for our share owners on a long-term basis," and for the many individuals, organizations and charitable foundations that held Coca-Cola stock, he did.
Goizueta "in every respect left that which he touched better and stronger," said Bill Fox, vice president for institutional advancement. "His wise counsel, the generosity of his spirit, the depth of his moral character and his vision certainly made our community a better and stronger place. I will always cherish the encouragement and affirmation he gave to so many of us who seek to serve Emory. We have been blessed by his friendship, and our loss is profound."
"He's going to be missed-as a guiding spirit and for his direct involvement," said Goizueta Business School Dean Ron Frank. "Roberto was the kind of person one would like to be," said Frank, citing Goizueta's integrity, wisdom and the quality of his judgment. "He didn't have a trace of the arrogance or egotism that often characterizes powerful people. He took pride in other people, making sure they received credit for what they did."
Roberto Crispulo Goizueta was born Nov. 18, 1931, in Havana, the son of a sugar refinery owner. He attended Yale University and graduated in 1953 with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering. He married, returned to Cuba and in 1954 responded to a blind ad in a local newspaper for a chemical engineer. The firm turned out to be The Coca-Cola Company.
Eighteen months after Castro seized power, Goizueta and his wife left for a Miami vacation with their three children, a suitcase and 100 shares of Coca-Cola stock. They never returned to Cuba.
Goizueta quickly rose through the ranks of Coca-Cola after moving to Atlanta in 1964 to work in the technical research and development department. In 1966, he was made a company vice president-until that time the youngest ever elected to the position. He became a senior vice president in 1974, a vice chairman in 1979 and in May 1980 was elected president, chief operating officer and a member of the board of directors. The next year, he was elected chairman of the board and chief executive officer. Goizueta became an Emory trustee in 1980.
In addition to his term on Emory's board, Goizueta was on the boards of SunTrust Banks, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the Woodruff Arts Center and others.
Goizueta's life experiences gave him a unique perspective that he shared with Emory's graduating class at the 1982 commencement exercises. "Material things-your property-can be lost, stolen or even forcibly confiscated. This happened to me and many of my countrymen some 20 years ago in Cuba," he said. "I hope you never experience anything like that, but it has left a lasting impression with me. No one can take away from you what you have stored inside your head."
Emory decided to honor Goizueta in 1994 by naming its School of Business for him. "I cannot think of a more fitting way for Emory to recognize what Roberto Goizueta has meant to Emory and to the Atlanta community than to name our business school for him," said Chancellor Billy Frye, then interim president. "His leadership, global vision, commitment to the highest ethical standards and ability to manage an enterprise that delivers world-class service have set the standard for us."
Goizueta acknowledged the honor in typically modest fashion. "Although I am very honored by the association I have with the business school, I really don't see it as a one-time, individual connection between us. To me, it is yet another step in the long and progressive relationship between The Coca-Cola Company and Emory University," he said. "When I view it from that perspective, it is less overwhelming to me personally and really seems to be quite a natural evolution of the wonderful relationship between our two institutions."
Of course, Emory is not the only institution to benefit from Coca-Cola's largesse. In 1990, Goizueta announced the company was committing $50 million over the next 10 years to support education through its philantropic arm, The Coca-Cola Foundation. That goal was reached by 1995, and another $50 million was pledged through the end of the century. Most recently, Goizueta set up a foundation in his own name, the goal of which is to assist organizations that serve children, support families at risk and create educational opportunities.
"The greatest legacy he leaves to all of us at The Coca-Cola Company is the intellectual courage he demonstrated time and time again. It was his willingness to take intelligent risks, to be open to new ideas, to act swiftly and to teach all of us to do the same that will always distinguish him," said M. Douglas Ivester, Coca-Cola Company president and chief operating officer.
Goizueta is survived by his wife, the former Olga Casteleiro; son Roberto, former director of Emory's Aquinas Center; daughter Olga Maria, '77C, '80L; son Javier; and eight grandchildren.
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