Before his retirement in 2001, Frederick T. Tucker, a 1963 graduate and distinguished alumnus of RIT's College of Engineering, was executive vice president and deputy to the chief executive officer, Motorola, Inc. As a Motorola executive, Tucker formed a strong partnership with RIT: the company funds professorships held by Lynn Fuller, microelectronic engineering department head, and Michael Lutz, software engineering program head, and also employs about a third of RIT's microelectronic engineering graduates.
When Fred Tucker entered RIT in the fall of 1958, making the trek upstate from tiny Herkimer, N.Y., he first lived in downtown's former Rochester Hotel, which had been converted to a men's dormitory.
"I came to RIT from a poor background," recalls Fred Tucker. "My family had very little money — none to send me to college. I worked two jobs after school and summers and I managed to save $2,000 to attend RIT."
Although the cost of living in the early 1960s was much lower than it is now, $2,000 only could be stretched so far. Although Tucker had some scholarship money ("I wasn't a great scholar," he says, "just adequate."), his first year in Rochester was a lean one. "It was a struggle," he says. "It was a tight budget — I had $7 a week to live on."
His creative solution to his money problems was his own informal "food plan." His roommate, Nick Lysenko '63, came from a home nearby. Lysenko's Ukrainian mother loved to cook big meals. "During the week I would go to Nick's house for dinner and eat like a king. Then his mother would make some sandwiches for me out of all the leftovers. I paid them $5 a week to cover expenses and that fed me all week, leaving $2 for other essentials."
An RIT co-op opportunity at General Motors-Delco helped make his next four years financially easier, he says. "It was a bonus for me. I came away from RIT with minimal debt. I had money to pay my bills. I had a head start in my career, compared to graduates from other schools.
"Students often need financial help. With co-op and scholarships, they can manage at RIT, just like I did," he says. "With the education and experience I received at RIT, I've carved a good career — by the time I was in my mid- to late-30s I was already a vice president."
After joining Motorola in 1965, Tucker served in a number of senior management positions, including president and general manager of the automotive, computer and energy sectors. He is a patentee in the field and also has served on an advisory body to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
"I have endowed a scholarship for RIT students in my mother's name. When I was a student, I had a scholarship established by a New Jersey woman. It wasn't a huge amount of money, but it made a big difference to me.
"I'm hoping my mother's scholarship will do the same for someone else."
Fall 2003 update to story in The University Magazine, Fall 2000