A Bright Idea: Bob McClennan ’65

For Bob McLennan ’65, it’s all about the student experience.

berry-center-mcclennanIt was the student experience that bound him to the Hilltop over 40 years ago, and it’s the student experience that drives him to stay involved at Cornell, involvement that includes three years on the Board of Trustees and a spot on the Berry Center Advisory Board.

“The thing that I remember most about Cornell is the very genuine friendships that I made there, many of which have lasted a lifetime,” said McLennan. Though the Berry Center was a long way off when McLennan attended Cornell, he embodied the same entrepreneurial spirit as classmate and Berry Center founder Jim McWethy ’65.

McLennan, who married Becky Martin Mclennan ’64, graduated from Cornell with a degree in economics and business administration before earning his law degree at the University of Illinois. He and a partner then started a real estate development and commercial and industrial construction company called McLennan & Thebault, Inc. Not too much later he became the majority shareholder and chairman of the board of a medium-sized bank.

In 1994 he sold McLennan & Thebault, and then sold the bank in 2002. He currently runs a management company that invests in private equity and real estate.

McLennan’s success in business led McWethy to tap him for the Advisory Board when the Berry Center was formed. Since then, McLennan has been involved in a variety of planning issues with the center, from staffing to events. Through his involvement, he’s come to appreciate what the Berry Center means for students.

“There’s an enormous amount we can do to enrich the lives of students,” said McLennan. “The Berry Center and other initiatives such as Dimensions are places where alumni can really help to enrich the experience of the students who are there now. That’s what I see as its primary mission. It’s a connection from the academic world to the commercial world.”