Maintaining Strong Connections
A Syracuse University Life Trustee, John Breyer has been one of the University’s most loyal friends since the early 1970s, when he began serving as the General Electric (GE) representative on the College of Engineering and Computer Science Advisory Board. Forty years later Breyer remains on the board, driven by his love of engineering and science and a strong desire to see more high school graduates pursue engineering careers. But that’s just the beginning of his commitment to Syracuse University students and faculty.
A veteran of the United States Navy, Breyer earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana before beginning a 28-year career with GE. He held a number of technical and managerial positions and spent several years working at GE’s Syracuse-based facility. During this time Breyer also became the company representative for programs sponsored by GE Corporate, and in this role he and the dean developed a program for minority students in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
He and his wife, Pat, have many fond memories of inviting the program’s students to their house to watch Syracuse football and discuss careers and the value of technology in society. “I have a passion for educating our young people and feel the University plays a critical role in helping young citizens become contributing members of society and live the ‘American Dream,’” Breyer says. “The University and those of us in the engineering and science fields share a common goal of wanting to make life better for all people.”
In 1989 Breyer moved to the Atlanta area, joining Scientific-Atlanta (now Cisco) to serve as a senior vice president and president of a large portfolio of divisions in SA’s instrumentation business. In addition to serving as president and CEO of MI Technologies, a company specializing in developing and manufacturing test and measurement systems and equipment, the Alpharetta, Georgia, resident is chairman of the company’s board of managers.
But while Breyer moved away from Syracuse, his ties to the University have only grown deeper. He became a Syracuse University parent when his daughter, Deborah (Breyer) Knoblock ’88, G’90, entered the School of Education. He joined the Board of Trustees in 2001 and is a Life Trustee today. Breyer delivered the convocation speech for the College of Engineering and Computer Science in 2005.
One of his greatest gifts came in 2009, when he and his wife established the John E. and Patricia A. Breyer Professorship in Electrical Engineering at ECS. “We feel strongly that all citizens should support education, and we wanted to do something that would make a difference for many years to come,” Breyer says. “A major part of the U.S. economy is centered on technology, and to keep supporting growth in the economy we need a greater emphasis on engineering and science education. Syracuse University is one of the best in the nation, and a wonderful platform for conducting research and advancing science everywhere.”
Today Breyer is an active member of the Atlanta Regional Council and a generous supporter of the Georgia Scholars Fund. He’s also passionate about strengthening the University’s connection to the Southeast and the world. “There are many people around Atlanta who have strong feelings about Syracuse, either from their student years or an interest in the education Syracuse offers,” he says. “It’s a great University with a lot to offer society, and Pat and I are honored to be part of it.”