Just months before he passed away last fall, Interlochen trustee John T. Hackett challenged his fellow board members to increase their financial support for Interlochen student scholarships. Hackett backed up this challenge with an offer to match the gifts of other trustees who increased their giving. His fellow trustees rose to the challenge. Such effective leadership was part of the character of this long-time friend of Interlochen-- an economist, venture capitalist and educator whose guidance and support served Interlochen for nearly three decades.
Hackett’s commitment to Interlochen began in earnest on a summer day in 1981, when his daughter, Sarah (now Sarah Sandback), joined the line to use the pay phone in High School Girls Division. She called her parents to inform them she wanted to spend her last two years of high school at Interlochen Arts Academy studying visual arts. After graduating in 1984, she went on to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The Hacketts, delighted by Sarah’s success, were determined to deepen their involvement with Interlochen. In 1987, John joined the Interlochen National Corporate Council, a group of professionals volunteering their executive expertise to benefit Interlochen – and Hackett had a wealth of experience to share.
A veteran of the U.S. Army, Hackett earned a bachelor’s degree in 1954 and an M.B.A. in 1958 from Indiana University. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in Economics and Finance from Ohio State University in 1961. In 1965, Hackett joined Cummins Engine Company, a manufacturer of diesel engines headquartered in Columbus, Ind., where he served as economist and director of long-range planning. By 1974, he was executive vice president, chief financial officer, and a member of the board of directors at Cummins.
From 1971 to 1977, Hackett was a member of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. After retiring from Cummins in 1988, he became vice president for finance and administration at his alma mater, Indiana University, where he also served as an adjunct member of the economics faculty. In 1991, Hackett became the managing general partner of CID Equity Partners.
Hackett joined the Interlochen Board of Trustees in 2004, and remained active in many endeavors. He taught economics and finance at Keene State College in New Hampshire, served on the board of directors of New Hampshire Public Radio and volunteered on the Visioning Committee for the Master Plan for the city of Keene.
“During his time on the Council,” notes Beth Stoner, associate vice president for advancement at Interlochen, “John was very active, opening doors and supplying various institutional needs.” Hackett played a key role in securing scholarship funding from Cummins Engine Foundation and digital photography equipment for the Interlochen marketing staff.
The Hackett family’s financial support of a new facility for the Visual Arts program is recognized in the naming of the building’s state-of-the-art Kiln Room. John’s grandchild, Greer Hackett, was among the first camp students to benefit from enhanced learning opportunities in the new facility. She attended Camp for three summers, including two as a high school visual artist. Another Hackett granddaughter, Louise Sandback, also attended Camp as a junior camper.
John Hackett spent three decades demonstrating his devotion to Interlochen in numerous tangible and intangible ways. He showed his leadership on and off-campus, always serving as a strong institutional advocate.
“He had an unswerving commitment and strong belief in the mission of our institution that showed through his actions and ongoing participation,” said Jeffrey Kimpton, president of Interlochen Center for the Arts. “He will be missed.”