The McGowan Vision

William G. McGowan organized MCI Communications Corporation in 1968. From then until his death 24 years later, Mr. McGowan led that company and the entire telecommunications industry in the application of new technologies, the creation of innovative services, and the introduction of competition into what had previously been a closed monopolistic universe.

William G. McGowanMcGowan's eclectic interests ranged well beyond the confines of commerce and industry, however. He recognized in education a unique means for instilling and fulfilling vision. He saw within the health research and healthcare fields many unparalleled opportunities to improve its quality. He also believed in finding ways to access the untapped treasures housed in the minds and spirits of the young and putting to good use that crucial human resource.

The William G. McGowan Charitable Fund has been established to give financial assistance to those organizations and causes that reflect those visions, concerns and lifetime experiences of its founder.

William G. McGowan was born and raised in the coal country of Pennsylvania, the son of a second generation Irish railroad engineer and a hard working school teacher. Throughout his schooling, both in high school and in college, he worked on the railroad that ran through his home area of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He accomplished his undergraduate work at a college that was just then starting -- Kings College, where there now is the McGowan School of Business which "Bill" launched just before his death in June 1992. He knew and understood the value of education and appreciated the efforts individuals often have to put into making an education possible. The experience of his early life gives vision to the McGowan Fund's efforts to assist in the development of the critical skills of the young -- but with a special emphasis on helping the undereducated and underdeveloped.

As graduation from Kings College approached, Mr. McGowan decided he wanted to go to Harvard University for his graduate work. He had been accepted by the school but realized he had only enough money saved to carry him through the first year. He wasn't sure how he would pay for his second year -- until he heard about the the school's "Baker Scholars" program -- a Harvard financial aid program available to the top business graduate students entering their final year. So, even before he started his first year, his "operating plan" was to pay his first year out of his savings from the railroad job and win the Baker scholarship to complete graduate school. He was that kind of a man -- and he did just that. It is that experience that led to the establishment of the McGowan Scholars program to assist young students to attend accredited business colleges and universities.

Bill McGowan carried that same determined spirit into his business life. During his early career he became a management consultant, concentrating on helping people turn around businesses that had fallen on bad times. A couple of them were in the telecommunications and technology fields -- and that is what led him to the biggest challenge he, or almost any one back in the 1960's, could have undertaken.

In the mid-1960's, he began to look at the telephone business as an entrepreneurial opportunity, especially at the near monopoly AT&T then held over all telephone communications . Today not many young people remember that in those days AT&T owned all the local telephone service, including the equipment that phone users had in their homes and businesses, and controlled nearly all of the long distance telephone traffic. It was the world's largest and one of this country's strongest business empires.

But Bill McGowan looked at it -- and at the law -- and concluded that there was nothing that gave the Bell System a God-given right to all of the long distance business. So, with a business partner who was trying to build a competing service in the Middle West, Bill founded MCI Communications Corporation to take on this giant of American business. He wanted to offer the American people a choice in their long distance service since he was convinced that competition would lead to better service and much lower prices. And it has done just that.

One could spend pages detailing the stumbling blocks the Bell System threw in his way -- as well as the service, regulatory and legal battles he had to win to even gain the right to go into the long distance business. And, once given that right by the FCC, no one could have foreseen the struggles he went through to raise money, build a system and convince the American people to use his newly available service. But Mr. McGowan was the kind of man who persevered in the face of challenges -- and he usually won the big ones. In 1968, he gained the right to go into the long distance business. By 1972, his new company, MCI, was taking in revenue.

In 1986, the hard working chairman of a fast-growing MCI suffered a heart attack that led to him becoming the highest ranking corporate executive of that time to have a heart transplant. This experience too has led the McGowan Fund to follow his vision. During his recuperation he became interested in the developments taking place in modern medicine and the research behind them. Prior to his death he served on the Board of Directors of Georgetown University and its Medical Center. He also established the McGowan Center for Artificial Organ Development, now the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, at the University of Pittsburgh. The Fund continues its support of medical research through grants in the fields of cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer disease, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, paralysis, hearing, sickle cell, eyesight, hearing, organ development and regeneration and heart attack survival.

The McGowan Charitable Fund is proud to assist in these diverse areas of assistance to the young, the infirm and to those seeking an education that may lead to entrepreneurial successes and business leadership in the mold of Bill McGowan.