Reading the Script and the Balance Sheet
Ross School honors New Line Cinema CEO Robert Shaye at Reunion weekend.
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—For Robert Shaye, BBA '60, founder, co-chairman and
co-CEO of New Line Cinema Corp., producer of such blockbusters as The Lord of
the Rings trilogy, Rush Hour and Austin Powers, the ability to read a balance
sheet, and the independence it brings, can be as important as reading a script.
Shaye received the David D. Alger Alumni Achievement Award at the Stephen
M. Ross School's 2006 Reunion weekend October 27-28. Established in 1989,
the award was renamed in honor of David Alger, MBA '68, president and
CEO of Fred Alger Inc., who died on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center.
It recognizes an alumnus whose professional achievements have brought distinction
to the individual, credit to the business school and benefit to others.
Dean Robert J. Dolan, right, presents the David D. Alger Alumni Achievement to Robert Shaye.
Accepting the award from Dean Robert J. Dolan, Shaye said, "My somewhat
unique personal take-away from my time at the Michigan business school has been
a synthesis. I learned both to think and reason, to be reflective and pragmatic.
And probably more than anything, I learned the value of independence. Business
skills mean independence."
As a 16-year-old Detroiter matriculating at the U-M for the first time, Shaye
looked forward to the "Socratic ideal of learning, a place of discovery
and philosophy." When he arrived to enroll, he realized with some horror
that the Registrar's Office had assigned him to the business school queue.
"After the shock and the request for immediate counseling, I was shown
my admission application essay, which clearly stated that I thought, after college,
I would be going into my father's business.
"Well, sure, I didn't exactly know what I wanted to do, and my
dad was a successful grocer, but who wants to prepare for wholesale grocering
at the temple of learning?"
When he learned that the business school required one year of a foreign language
rather than two years for graduates of the College of Literature, Science and
the Arts, Shaye said, "The decision suddenly became easier.
"So I enrolled in business administration, and my blue class registration
card stood out like an alien visitor in the classes I took in English and philosophy.
It was a badge of certain pride. And so, eventually, was the decision to continue
in business administration."
Citing such outstanding professors as the late Robert L. Dixon in accounting
and Ross J. Wilhelm in business economics and marketing, Shaye said he experienced
the best of both worlds by taking classes in LSA and the Ross School. "I
was so eager to cram it all in, I even graduated in three and one-half years."
The bag of academic tools he assembled from both schools has served him well.
"I love what I do. I was blessed with the passion for my profession from
a very early age. And I am blessed to have had a father who brought me up in
business, as I realize now, not to take over his, but to create and manage mine.
"Business for me became a means to an end, and not just the making of
money, which, as a passionless exercise, can be a dreary achievement. Understanding
business allowed me to realize my dream."
Quoting Stanley Kubrick, who, when asked if he ever took a vacation, replied,
"A vacation from what?" Shaye added: "That's how I feel
today — and I am extremely proud to accept this award and to say thanks
to Michigan for helping me implement my dream and embark on a lifelong vacation."
For more information, contact:
Mary Jo Frank