Notable Alumnus

Robert Wright, OD
Class of 1960

Dr. Robert Wright grew up in the segregated South in the 1940s and 1950s. Segregation was common in doctors’ waiting rooms and at water fountains, restrooms, and baseball stadiums. Ku Klux Klan crosses were burned in his neighbor’s yard. His parents earned less than others doing the same work. His choice to come to The Ohio State University was based, in part, on the fact that he had difficulty as an African American in being admitted to colleges in the South. The Ohio State University admitted him in 1955. After graduation, Dr. Wright returned to his home of Columbus, Georgia to begin practice, but challenges persisted. His application for a US Army commission as an optometrist was denied. His attempt to get a position as an optometrist at Ft. Benning, Georgia ended, as the job was no longer available when he arrived for an interview. He returned to Columbus, Ohio to practice, expecting to eventually retire from the independent practice of optometry. Within a year, his mother visited and shared the early experiences of the civil rights movement that was brewing in the South. He made the decision to return home to Columbus, Georgia to practice, with the hope of making a difference in the visual welfare and the lives of the people of his hometown.

He became active in the civil rights movement, marching with Martin Luther King, Jr. from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. He was elected to City Council three times in Columbus, Georgia, beginning in 1970, the first Republican African American to serve in that capacity. After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Wright had an opportunity to serve as Associate Administrator for Minority Small Business Administration under President Ronald Reagan. In the ensuing years, he created several consulting firms, eventually growing the second one, Dimensions International, into a multimillion dollar company. Presently, he serves as Chairman and CEO of FE Holdings and is a member of the Aflac Board of Directors. He is also the Chairman of the Presidential Commission for the National Museum of African American History and Culture; Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Morehouse School of Medicine; member of the National Leadership Cabinet for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation; and member of the Board of Directors of the Black College Alumni Hall of Fame.

Dr. Wright’s accolades and recognitions include Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Technology Services; Thurgood Marshall College Fund Community Leadership Award; the National Federation of Black Women Business Owners’ Man of the Year; the Horatio Alger Award for Distinguished Americans; and being named one of the 50 Most Influential Minorities in Business. Dr. Wright’s wish for his legacy is to have made a difference. He certainly has.

Previous Notable Alumni