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Li He, MBA '14

Li He, MBA '14

Feb 21 2014

Johnson's thought leaders - Uncle Don (Professor Donald P. Greenberg)


"Nobody is too old to change. I am older than most people in Sage Hall, but if I can be disruptive, everyone here can be, should be and must be!"

- By Uncle Don ( Donald P. Greenberg ’ 55)

I know Uncle Don through his famous course at Johnson– Disruptive Technology. I have to say that in ten years, I will likely forget most of the courses at Johnson, however this disruptive technology course will still be instilled at the bottom of my heart, and as hard as a diamond. I am saying this because Uncle Don is the most admired leader at Johnson. He is always challenging us to think boldly, to take risks and to be disruptive.

Apparently, Uncle Don is designing something

There are a lot of videos and media press about Uncle Don, who has made tremendous contributions to Cornell University, the computer graphics industry and Silicon Valley. However, what I want to share with you here is not how famous or how influential he is, I want to leverage this platform to tell you how he, as a professor, transforms Johnson, brings positive changes to our student body and pushes us to think further, which I think is the most important element of being a thought leader.

Uncle Don is sharing his gift from Microsoft - Highly sensitive big TV screen

Although 80 years old, Uncle Don still feels excited every morning to immerse himself in new technology trends and study how it can change the world. He usually tells us in class that no one is too old to renew himself. Although it is hard to change, as long as you have this mindset, the world will become a much better place. When I told him that I didn't know how to code, which is one of my biggest concerns when it comes to staying on the cutting edge of technology, he just asked why I didn't just learn coding language right now. Although rejected by the Cornell Computer Science Department many decades ago, this didn’t prevent him from changing the industry. From 1970 to 1990, he worked extremely hard and spent every second keeping himself updated on new technology trends. This is why he can’t understand why the young generation limits themselves from doing revolutionary things. He always questions us: who is limiting you from following your heart and dream?

Our classmate Morgan Yi is with Uncle Don

I always enjoy having conversations with Uncle Don after class because he is so thoughtful and critical. “I am old enough to see all of the benefits that have resulted from frequent communications between different industries. Communication creates new ideas, feeds disruptive technology and incubates mutual understanding that transforms our world to be a better place." Uncle Don is a professor of three different schools at Cornell: Architecture, Computer science and business. You can truly feel how magical his talent is by visiting the house he designed by himself, the lab he built from scratch and the “Flying diaper” sculpture he constructed at the entrance of Cornell Plantations. He highly encourages professor-student communication, just as he actively promotes communication between the engineering school and Johnson. He is the person who drafted the bidding plan for the Cornell Tech Campus for the Bloomberg administration which includes the Johnson MBA at Cornell Tech. From his prospective, this is a revolutionary opportunity to change Johnson and disrupt the MBA education industry. Sitting in Ithaca, with a footprint in NYC and many cities all over the world, Johnson is on the path to challenging and becoming a future leader of MBA education.


House designed by Uncle Don (His wife didn't like the visual design draft in the very beginning, but was surprised after he finished the construction)

I, with many of my Johnson classmates, feel so grateful and appreciative to have Uncle Don at our school. Standing on his wisdom and critical insights, we will keep pushing ourselves, jumping out of the box, and making a difference in our own careers while helping to bring Johnson to another level of excellence.

Finger Lakes view from Uncle Don's house - The best of the best in Ithaca


Total: 3 Comment(s)
You really made me want to meet this professor!!!
great post!
Claudio Macedo - · reply · 0 0 0
I love this story, Cecilia! I don't just want to meet him, I want to be like him.
Graeme Roberts - · reply · 0 0 0

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