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|Larry D. Bouts '71|
Larry Bouts was a teenager when President John Kennedy was making history, and among the late president's quotes is one that could have been written about the alumnus we honor today. "Leadership and learning," remarked JFK, "are indispensable to each other." When we think about Larry Bouts, leadership and learning are words that fit him well.
Larry Bouts grew up in the Hiram community and attended the local high school.
After graduation, Larry served in the Navy, married his Hiram sweetheart, Alison Copius Bouts '71, and earned his graduate degree at the Wharton School of Business. The Pepsi Company invited this newly minted MBA to be part of its finance team, and within a few years the youngster from a small Ohio town became chief financial officer of PepsiCo Foods International.
In 1990, Toys-R-Us came to call, and Larry assumed the position of President of the firm's rapidly expanding international division. For the next five years, Larry was rarely home in New Jersey as he flew around the globe negotiating the opening of 340 stores in 20 countries.
This roller coaster life style was traded, literally, for the real thing in 1995 when Larry was named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Six Flags Theme Parks, the second largest operator of theme parks in the nation. He took the company to new record profits, but after three years, he took the biggest risk of his life and ventured into the world of dot.com companies.
Larry is the first to admit that advising dot.coms with business plans to go public was the most thrilling time of his life, and also the most exhausting. But even after the famous downturn of the last few years, Larry is not deterred from investing or believing in the American free-enterprise system. Rather, Larry's professional life today is focused on leading and advising an eclectic mix of emerging companies toward financial stability and growth.
In 1995, Larry was singled out from among thousands of graduates of Ohio's private liberal arts colleges to be inducted into the Hall of Excellence of the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges.
Throughout his career Larry has traded time with his family to contribute his leadership talents to the learning side of the success equation. He served as a Hiram College trustee from 1986-1997. He then agreed to serve as one of the four co-chairs of the $50.7 million capital campaign.
Alison and Larry Bouts have great appreciation for what a college degree can mean in life and great empathy for students struggling with the cost of obtaining that undergraduate degree. That is why in recent years they established a scholarship foundation to benefit high school students as well as Hiram College students. And that is why, as a young married couple, one of their first joint philanthropic decisions was to establish a scholarship to honor Larry's mother, Erma Bouts, who for so many years managed the Hiram Bookstore.
Larry Bouts is honored with the Alumni Achievement Award for two reasons. First, he exemplifies what it means to excel in business in the global community and economy. Second, and of even more importance to the alumni of this college, he lives out our mission statement which reads, "our mission…is to enable students…to develop as intellectually alive, socially responsible, ethical citizens ready for leadership and continuous personal and professional growth."