Distinguished Alumni Award

This honor is presented to a graduate who has brought distinction to the college and RIT through professional and/or community achievement.

View profiles from past Distinguished Alumni Award recipients »

John Hartmann '85
College of Liberal Arts 2016 Recipient

A native of Clifton Springs, N.Y., John Hartmann arrived at RIT with aspirations of becoming a police officer. The criminal justice major excelled at RIT and his professors encouraged him to pursue a law degree after graduation.

“RIT really opened my eyes to education,” Hartmann said. “That, combined with the classroom experience and understanding other people’s points of view, has impacted my entire career.”

After law school, Hartmann went on to enjoy a career in the FBI, but recalibrated his plan after 10 years with the bureau to pursue a corporate career, listing business leader and, in time, CEO as objectives.

“If you don’t choose to plan, then ultimately you are choosing to have others plan for you. Work your plan in a way that positions you to achieve your goals and aspirations. At the same time, keep your mind open to all the other possibilities and directions you can go.”

As president and CEO of True Value, Hartmann now oversees a co-op of 4,500 independently owned hardware stores, providing them with the resources they need to be successful. Under his leadership, True Value has gone on to see its best sales in over 20 years.

Hartmann credits this success, and others throughout his varied career, to a simple, yet unexpected, asset.

“Listening is more important than talking. Whether you’re in a classroom setting, corporate role or in public service, the skill of listening is an important one for all of us to focus on.”

Hartmann was honored on April 15, 2016 during the Distinguished Alumni Dinner and Awards Celebration.