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The Adler Experience: A Reflection on Dr. Phil Adler by Chuck Easley

Chuck Easley, Professor of the Practice, offers a reflection and ode to Dr. Phil Adler (August 29, 1930 – July 24, 2023), professor at the Georgia Tech College of Management (now Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business) from 1962 to 2000.
Some of Dr. Phil Adler's students from the 1960s to 2000s, including corporate executives, former professional athletes, and more.

Some of Dr. Phil Adler's students from the 1960s to 2000s, including corporate executives, former professional athletes, and more.

Dr. Phil Adler: Little parts of Dr. R.C. Davis, W. Whyte, Goodbye Mr. Chips, To Sir With Love, Patton, Dead Poet Society, Stand and Deliver, A Few Good Men, Finding Forrester, Paper Chase, Einstein, Edison, Euclid, Drucker, J. Collins, House, and Ted Lasso rolled into one with a Socratic bow.

You heard about it yet had to experience it firsthand to really know, appreciate, and grow from it. 

From the eye contact that led to a question, to the hopeful recall from your notes, or rescuing intuition from thinking, logic, and creativity…to the tense moment before answering, the depth of being incorrect, to the triumphant moment of accuracy and correctness. That was it! If you were “with him,” there was no better feeling of reinforcement.

Forged from the city of Cincinnati and the banks of the Ohio River, there rose a leader like no other seen at Georgia Tech – Dr. Phil Adler. He was commenced at The Ohio State University, mastered by University of Miami, and hooded by The Ohio State University. Yet he was 1,000% Yellow Jacket and Ramblin’ Wreck. 

He honed his verbal skills and that “attention-getting voice” in practical application early in life as a sports broadcaster/radio announcer. That piercing encouraging stare/glare and presence was refined with the Air Force, from which he retired as a full-bird colonel after 30 years of service. He advised presidents of the U.S., academic institutions, and CEOs; led innovators in the medical field at Emory; coached historic winning athletic head coaches; and met and interacted with impactful social change makers of our time like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  

Starting at Georgia Tech before integration and retiring at the turn of the century, he openly shared with his students. He expected them to reach the same heights as those that he had worked with throughout his life. If you entered his classroom, he expected you to leave better and help others in the class achieve as well. 

He loved and welcomed all his students and felt so proud when he introduced you as one of his students. He led by example. You really felt the honor to be called “his student” and the variable/volatile status of “being with him.” Even with dozens in his class, he had an ability to remember every detail from your third day of class onwards, from things like your name, interests, major, career choice, “your pros/cons” in class, to your current status and most importantly, your family. He would glowingly share updates on his family with great pride and joy. 

He made you feel welcomed wherever and whenever he saw you. All his students felt special from day three until the last time he saw or spoke to you, in person or on the phone, sometimes after midnight. He always expected your absolute best despite the circumstances, and he gave you the same. 

This was his personification of the reinforcement of ‘The Circles of Life and Influence.’ You give excellence in hopes of helping others reach their best and live better, and you will get and can expect the same in return in every facet of life. Now, we, ‘his students,’ must carry on and make his belief in and expectations of us truth by living and passing on what he shared and gave us. We do this to continue to help others live better and mint/make us to be the best version of a Georgia Tech alum we can be. 

“Carry on Yellow Jackets, Carry On…!”

So, here’s to a Jolly Good Fellow, whose voice was Loud and Clear. He was a Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech and this is the last one-pager for the years. For a Helluva Professor! Who to his students was so very dear…Rest in peace, Dr. Adler. 

Five sources: Fall 1962 - July 24, 2023, Dedication, Commitment, Determination, Care, and Excellence!

…and yes, a copy was made…

See More Tributes to Dr. Phil Adler

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Charles Easley
Professor of the Practice

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