- Michael Birck
Michael J. Birck is a co-founder and current chairman of Tellabs Inc.
Birck began his career on the technical staff at AT&T’s Bell Telephone Laboratories. He went on to manage the Transmission System Design Department at Continental Telephone Laboratories. He was director of engineering at Wescom Inc. from 1968 to 1975.
Birck and five other electrical engineers and salesmen came up with the idea for Tellabs in 1975 while brainstorming and drinking coffee around a kitchen table in suburban Chicago.
Well known in tech circles in Chicago and around the country, Birck came to the public’s attention in 1999 when the Chicago Bears football team appeared to be up for sale. Birck had been appearing on the Forbes list of wealthy Americans since 1996. A radio show host on the WSCR “The Score” Radio Station picked up on that and suggested that Birck buy “da Bears.”
Birck told the Chicago Sun-Times: "It was kind of amusing. Some guy on The Score said, `How about that Mike Birck guy? He ought to be able to buy the Bears.'"
At the time, while Tellabs stock was soaring, with Birck’s shares then hovering at about $1 billion, he edged out another well-known Chicagoan, Oprah Winfrey.
Birck was a jock—he had been a star pitcher at Purdue University. But with the bearish telecom industry, which he had described as “the telecom nuclear winter,” Birck wasn’t interested in taking on the bad news Bears.
His only ventures into the sports arena included funding the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex, named after him by Purdue University, and donating $5 million to the renovation of the University’s Mackey Arena in 2008.
Birck is a philanthropist outside the sports arena, too, with contributions to Purdue University, Benedictine University, Loyola University and Hinsdale Hospital, among others.
Birck is past chairman of the Purdue Alumni Foundation Board and is a trustee of Purdue University. He has been a director at the Purdue Research Foundation and serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council of the Krannert School of Management. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Benedictine University and of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy Fund Board.
Purdue and Benedictine University have awarded him honorary doctorate degrees. He also received the Illinois High Tech Entrepreneur award from Peat Marwick and Mitchell/Crain’s Chicago Business in 1984 and the Outstanding Master Entrepreneur award by Inc. Magazine and Ernst & Young in 1995.
He was inducted into the Chicago Business Hall of Fame in 1998 and received the Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.
He was honored as a 2001 recipient of the IEEE Ernst Weber Engineering Leadership Recognition award. In 2003, the Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA) presented him with the Medal of Honor Award for his achievements and leadership in the U.S. telecommunications industry.
- ^ "IEEE Ernst Weber Engineering Leadership Recognition Recipients". IEEE. http://www.ieee.org/documents/weber_rl.pdf. Retrieved November 20, 2010.
Birck, Michael, Tellabs biography http://www.tellabs.com/about/bios/mjbirck.pdf
Birck, Michael, Biography, IEEE http://www.ieee.org/portal/pages/about/awards/bios/2001EWldrspMB.html
“Michael Birck’s Fortune,” Howard Wolinsky, Chicago Sun-Times, http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1P2-4478065.html
“Notebaert exits Tellabs for Qwest,” Crain’s Chicago Business, June 17, 2002. http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?id=5710
“Mackey Arena renovation receives $5M boost.” The Associated Press. January 28, 2008. http://www.wthr.com/Global/story.asp?S=7781154&nav=9d8u
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.