Tyson Suite dedication

Upon meeting a group of Fisher FIRST students, it quickly became clear to everyone in the room that Jesse Tyson was there first to listen.

“Before he even started to tell us about himself, he had each person share something important about their lives,” said Jada Jackson, an operations management student. “He addressed us as if we were his equals, not just a bunch of college kids.”

Jackson is part of Fisher FIRST (Focusing on Inclusion and Readiness for a Successful Transition), a year-long program that provides underrepresented and first-generation students with opportunities to engage with a diverse student community, develop stronger relationships on campus and emerge as leaders at Fisher and beyond. For many, it was their first time meeting Tyson.

Eventually Tyson (MBA ’76), who serves as the president and CEO of the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA), shared his story of growing up a sharecropper — one of seven living in a four-room house in Tennessee. The family had no indoor plumbing or air conditioning, and a wood-burning stove doubled as a cooking and heat source. He has long credited his grandparents, especially his grandmother, Lena Taylor, with inspiring and encouraging his pursuit of a life-changing education, first as an undergraduate at Lane College in Tennessee and then as a graduate student at The Ohio State University.

From sharing his story with Fisher students like Jackson, to serving on the college’s Dean’s Advisory Council, to supporting graduate students through scholarships, Tyson’s pride in his Ohio State roots is immense.

Now, that legacy of engagement is a permanent part of the Fisher campus. Together with his wife, Cheryl, the family was recently honored for their generosity in the creation of the Cheryl and Jesse Tyson Diversity and Inclusion Suite.

“While Cheryl and I don’t seek recognition for our actions, we do like to show off our people network when possible, because we are proud of those we truly call friends,” said Tyson, who spent decades at ExxonMobil where he rose to the position of Global Aviation leader before retiring and beginning a career with the  NBMBAA.

“We are committed to remaining loyal friends and will continue our efforts to support the next generation of black and brown children. While our effort is just a small down payment, we hope it will benefit the next generation and motivate them to pay it forward.”

The space will continue the quality work of Fisher’s dedicated Office of Diversity and Inclusion Student Services and Corporate and Community Outreach (ODISSCCO).

“Thanks to the Tyson family’s continuing generosity, the transformation of this space recognizes their support of the academic, personal and professional development of diverse students at Fisher,” said David Harrison, senior director of Fisher’s ODISSCCO. “I have known Jesse for many years. His mentorship and sponsorship has been truly valued.

“Over the years, Jesse has noted his sincere appreciation for the national recognition that we have received for the diversity and inclusion programs and services offered by our office. He realizes that it takes financial resources, in addition to great people with excellent ideas and strategies, to impact positive change. His recent financial gift is a true testament of his ongoing appreciation and endorsement. More specifically, it also renews our college and our office’s commitment to the people, programs and opportunities that will equip Fisher students to reshape the future of business to be more diverse and inclusive than ever before.”

For Jackson, seeing a successful, devoted alumnus supporting Fisher through service, mentorship and philanthropy is inspiring.

“The fact that his time at Ohio State touched him enough for him to consider this place as a home says so much about the school,” she said. “His story is inspirational because he told us that we are the generation that will make changes, not just in the business world, but throughout the entire world.”