The Thomas Holloran Legacy

Thomas Holloran

The Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions is honored to have as its inspiration and namesake, a person whose leadership qualities combine excellence in business with a talent for teaching and mentoring. These qualities make Thomas Holloran a unique role model for the Holloran Center.

"Much more important [than career accomplishments] is that I met you.... My life is a continuum of personal relationships. You have been my teachers."

-Thomas Holloran speaking to a group of his colleagues at an event announcing the formation of the Holloran Center, as quoted in Minnesota Lawyer

A Distinguished Career

By any measure, Thomas Holloran has had an accomplished career. Thomas Holloran grew up in Minneapolis and attended the University of Minnesota for both his bachelors and law degrees. Law school was put on hold while Holloran served as an officer for two years on a Navy destroyer during the Korean War.

After graduating from law school in 1955, Holloran spent the next twelve years with the Minneapolis firm Fredrikson and Byron. Holloran was the fourth attorney to join the firm which now numbers over 180. He became a partner at the firm after two years, and built his practice in business and securities law, as well as developing his remarkable abilities in effective corporate governance.

Holloran incorporated Medtronic, Inc. in 1957 while at Fredrikson and Byron. This began his part in Medtronic's small beginning as a partnership of two, along with two employees, working out of a garage in Northeast Minneapolis. Holloran joined Medtronic's Board of Directors in 1960, and would continue to serve on the board for the next 40 years. In 1967, Holloran left Fredrikson & Byron to work for Medtronic - first as general counsel, then becoming an Executive Vice President, then finally as President. Following his tenure as president at Medtronic, Holloran went on to spend ten years as Chairman and CEO of the investment banking company RBC Dain-Rauscher (formerly the Inter-Regional Financial Group, Inc.).

Along with his corporate leadership roles, Holloran served on numerous company boards, including those of ADC Telecommunications, the Center for Diagnostic Imaging, Flexsteel Industries, Malt-O-Meal Company, MTS Systems, Polaris Industries, National City Bank, and Bank of America.

Public Service and Community Involvement

Along with his business and law practice, Holloran dedicated his leadership abilities to educational and community services. He is a longtime board member of the University of St. Thomas and the College of St. Scholastica, and was formerly the president of the Alumni Association of the University of Minnesota. Following his tenure as Chairman and CEO of Dain Rauscher, Holloran dedicated himself to teaching new business leaders, becoming a Professor of Management at the University of St. Thomas' College of Business. He also took on overseas teaching assignments in China and Russia. Holloran also played a role in the founding of the University of St. Thomas School of Law, where he now teaches and serves on the board of governors.

"The School of Law would not exist but for Tom Holloran. He played a number of roles. He was an informal advisor to Monsignor Murphy and then Father Dease. He was a member of the committee that studied the feasibility of opening the law school and made a recommendation to the Board of Trustees. He helped to raise funds and win acceptance for the law school among members of the legal community, most of whom were indifferent or hostile. He served on the hiring committee that hired the founding faculty.

More than anything, Tom's involvement gave the law school desperately needed credibility. Tom has tremendous respect among members of the St. Thomas community and members of the legal and business communities. Time and again, people said, in one way or another, 'If Tom thinks this is a good idea, then I'm willing to give it a chance.'"

- Federal District Judge Patrick J. Schiltz on Holloran's role in the founding of the University of St. Thomas School of Law. Judge Schiltz was a founding dean of the law school.

In the realm of public service, Holloran served as Mayor of Shorewood for over three years, ten years on the Metropolitan Airports Commission, and over four years as a Municipal Judge for South Minnetonka.

Believing that working on both for-profit and not-for-profit boards was important to being a good director, Holloran dedicated time to not-for-profit work. He served on boards including the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Center for Ethical Corporate Cultures, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Walker Art Center, the Bush Foundation, and the St. Paul Seminary.

Leadership and Mentoring

Perhaps one of the most remarkable qualities of Thomas Holloran is in his leadership style, achieving results in a quiet, unassuming manner. One key aspect to his leadership style is the priority he placed on mentorship. For example, when approached by someone with a problem, Holloran would not simply resolve the problem, but helped the person to develop an understanding of how to deal with the issues involved. By this attitude, not only did Holloran bring success to many businesses, but he also enriched and invested in the lives of people with whom he worked.

"[Tom] doesn't do things so he'll get recognition. It's not about me, it's about my clients, my company - it's about doing the work well, living life well, and helping the community.... Tom has always been generous with time and money, he enjoys teaching and giving.... He's valuable if you need [perspective]. He'll take the time, and you know he's a person you can trust to give you his best thinking and be straightforward with you."

- John Stout of Fredrikson & Byron on Thomas Holloran's character. John was recruited to Fredrikson & Byron by Holloran in Michigan in 1967, and has known Holloran personally and professionally throughout his career. John Stout is one of the Holloran Center's financial supporters.

To his students, Holloran has been an important resource. One student who recently worked with Thomas Holloran in creating a new course described Holloran as "a kind of professional that all of us should strive to become."

Thomas Holloran's qualities are best evidenced by the respect he has earned from his peers. Earl Bakken, one of Medtronic's co-founders, remarked upon how Holloran could always get the job done while still maintaining an ethical culture. Many of Holloran's friends and colleagues have demonstrated their support by making the establishment of the Holloran Center possible, donating over $4 million towards the center's endowment.

A Continuing Legacy

"Tom Holloran is a wonderful living example of the deep sense of stewardship and moral courage that we hope to advance."

- Holloran Center Director and UST School of Law Professor Neil Hamilton

One of the results of Thomas Holloran's service and leadership is the founding of the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions. The Holloran Center is in some ways a culmination of the principles and lessons that Holloran has lived, bringing the financial support of his colleagues to further a field in which Holloran has been an example.

"A deep and abiding faith; and that has a lot to do with giving rather than receiving, or sharing rather than focusing on aggregating, finding and emphasizing the positive rather than the negative."

- John Stout on Holloran's inspirations

Holloran is now dedicating his efforts to helping guide the Holloran Center, which researches and develops programs to teach ethical leadership principles to a new generation of law and business students. As of 2007, he is co-teaching ethics in the professions courses at the University of St. Thomas School of Law along with Prof. Neil Hamilton and Senior Fellow Hank Shea.

"I think [Tom] is an effective leader for a number of reasons, including the fact that, more than any person I know, Tom gets genuine satisfaction from helping others to succeed. I suspect that the reason he was such a successful leader in business and in law is that, whether people agreed or disagreed with him, they knew that his only concern was helping the institution."
- Federal District Court Judge Patrick J. Schiltz on Holloran's leadership qualities

Holloran once remarked that "when I practiced law at Medtronic under Earl Bakken, I was taught to help those around you to do their best because that promotes the values of the enterprise." The attitude that "leadership is service" is prevalent throughout his storied career, and established a continuing legacy that is helping form a new generation of leaders