Business leader, Statesman & Philanthropist
The Max M. Fisher Story

“Buildings are just the enabling devices. It’s not just the walls, but what goes on inside, that brings out the best in our students and empowers them to impact their communities.”

Max M. Fisher’s vision for what catalyzes positive and meaningful change in our world is embedded in every building, classroom, project and student at The Ohio State University. It’s the belief that the tangibles of a business college are nothing without curiosity, passion and hunger.

Curiosity and a football scholarship brought Max Fisher, the son of Russian immigrants, to Ohio State in 1926. He graduated four years later with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

After graduation, Max moved to Detroit, Michigan, to join his family, where he worked for his father’s oil reclamation business.

Utilizing hard work, instinct, and his legendary business communications skills, Max grew the business into one of the largest gas station chains in the Midwest. His subsequent stock market and real estate investments made him one of the nation’s most successful business professionals. Beyond that, his values and deep dedication to the worldwide community made him a recognized leader in service and philanthropy.

Max was awarded 13 honorary degrees and nearly 50 awards from organizations such as the Jewish Welfare Federation and the United Way of America. He was the subject of articles, TV documentaries, and a biography by Peter Golden entitled “Quiet Diplomat.” Every U.S. president from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George H.W. Bush relied on Max’s diplomacy skills and global connections. In particular, his counsel to U.S. presidents and Israeli prime ministers and played a remarkable role in shaping the history of both countries.

Having graduated during the Great Depression, Max witnessed firsthand the hardship that many Americans experienced. Even as he began to find personal success, seeing others struggle sparked in him a spirit of philanthropy that he carried throughout his life.

In 1993, Max’s desire to see Ohio State’s business college transformed into one of the premier institutions in the country resulted in a $20 million gift that spearheaded the building of what is now a highly competitive, top-ranked business school. In recognition of his generous commitment, the college was named the Max M. Fisher College of Business.

Together with Marjorie, his wife of 52 years, Max cultivated a legacy of philanthropy that impacted countless causes and organizations locally, nationally and around the world through the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Family Foundation. Upon Max’s death in 2005, Marjorie worked tirelessly to continue the tremendous work of the Fisher Family Foundation — at the college and beyond — until her death in 2016.

Max once described his alma mater as a destination that provided him with opportunities to take risks, shape his own future, and develop a foundation to make lasting and meaningful impacts on the world. That vision, his legacy and ongoing work of the Fisher family continue to shape the mission of the Max M. Fisher College of Business today.