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For someone who shuns the limelight, Hansjörg Wyss (MBA ’65) has been unusually public of late, celebrated for his visionary accomplishments in health care and conservation.

Wyss, 75, founded Synthes USA, a Swiss-American firm, in 1974 and led it to global prominence as a pioneer in the development and manufacture of medical devices for orthopedic and trauma surgery. He continues to serve as chairman.

In recognition of his career, the HBS Health Industry Alumni Association presented Wyss with the Beatrice D. Ellerin Alumni Achievement Award at its annual conference in November (see article "Fixing What Ails the Drug Industry"). Wolfgang Klietmann, MD (OPM 12, 1987), president of the association, lauded Wyss for his “service to humanity and society in health care, research, education, and preservation of the environment, and as patron of the arts.” (In 2008, Wyss gave Harvard $125 million to create a biologically inspired engineering institute. And in 2004, he gave $25 million to support the HBS Doctoral Programs. Wyss has also endowed several professorships at Harvard.)

Last December, Wyss figured prominently in what news accounts hailed as the largest, private conservation land purchase in U.S. history. He was the lead donor and passionate supporter of the Montana Legacy Project deal that purchased over 310,000 acres of forest land from the Plum Creek Timber Company in the western part of the state.

The Wyss Foundation’s initial gift of $25 million inspired public and private partners to join in the purchase, described as a critical link to conserving the Crown of the Continent — a 10-million-acre natural region that encompasses Glacier National Park and provides refuge for some of the last grizzly bears, Canada lynx, and wolverines in the lower 48 states. The foundation’s latest gift of an additional $10 million helped bring the deal to completion.

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Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1965, Section E

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