Class of 1939B
Inducted 1998 Inaugural Group
Corporate titan, civic leader, arts patron and philanthropist, George Weissman began his professional life as a newspaperman, turned to public relations and then rose to the very top echelons of corporate achievement.
Along the way, he never lost sight of Baruch College, as his alma mater is now known. A founding trustee of the Baruch College Fund in 1969, he was a devoted supporter for more than four decades. He was instrumental in providing major support to the Weissman Center for International Business in 1996. Two years later, he endowed the Mildred and George Weissman School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Born in the Bronx on July 12, 1919, Weissman graduated from Townsend Harris High School before enrolling at Baruch, then the downtown business branch of CCNY, and earning a degree in business administration. His first job was at a small weekly newspaper in New Jersey, followed by a stint as a reporter for the Newark Star-Ledger. He enlisted in the Navy on the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and served for more than three years during World War II. When he reentered civilian life, he switched to public relations, first at Samuel Goldwyn Productions and then working for PR legend Ben Sonnenberg on one of his major accounts, Philip Morris.
In 1952, Weissman joined Philip Morris as assistant to the president and director of public relations. The following year, he was named a vice president of the company, handling not only PR and market research but also new product development and packaging. He became a director in 1958, then was appointed chairman and chief executive officer of Philip Morris International, leading its expansion abroad. Weissman became president of Philip Morris Companies, Inc., in 1967, vice chairman in 1973 and chairman and ceo in 1978.
|At Lincoln Center, where Weissman was board chairman.|
In 1984, Weissman retired, but continued with Philip Morris as an advisor. That same year marked his return to the world of media, when he became a director of Paramount Communications, a post he held for the next decade. He was also board chairman of Lincoln Center, a founding director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, a trustee of the Whitney Museum and a director of the New York Chamber of Commerce and Industry. A leading advocate of corporate support for the arts, Weissman in 1998 delivered the inaugural “Weissman Lecture on the Influence of the Arts on Society” at Baruch, a presentation that is still remembered vividly today.
He has been the recipient of numerous honors for public service, including from the NAACP, the National Urban League and the Jackie Robinson Foundation. City College presented him with the Townsend Harris Medal in 1968, an honorary LLD degree in 1982, and the John H. Finley award in 1984. He was awarded a Distinguished Alumnus Award from Baruch in 1988, and in 2008, he and his wife, Mildred, received the William and Anita Newman Medal for Philanthropy, one of the highest accolades Baruch bestows.
Weissman died on July 24, 2009, less than two weeks after his 90th birthday.