Charles Koch is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Koch Industries, one of the largest privately held companies in the U.S. Over the years, Koch has been an outstanding executive, especially if measured by the growth of Koch Industries. When he first took over the company in 1967, the medium-sized firm was valued at about $180 million. Today, Koch Industries has grown more than 500-fold and is valued north of $100 billion. Throughout the years, Koch has expanded Koch Industries through the acquisition of other companies such as Great Northern Oil Company, a joint acquisition of Chrysler Realty in 1979, Sun Oil refinery in 1981, C. Reiss Coal Company in 1986, and the Brown Fintube Company in 1990, among many others.
In addition to his life as a businessman, Koch also has an interest in politics and philanthropy. Along with his brother David, Koch has donated millions of dollars to fund research, policy, and educational projects. Among the many awards and recognitions he has received, Koch was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science degree by George Mason University, an honorary Doctor of Law degree by Babson College, and an Honorary Doctor of Commerce degree by Washburn University. In 2014, Koch was ranked the 9th richest person in the world by Hurun Report with an estimated net worth of $36 billion.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Koch was educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Although he was a prodigy at mathematics, he decided to take a different path, and in 1957 he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in general engineering from MIT. He was just getting started. Afterward, Koch remained at MIT and did his graduate work on mechanical and nuclear engineering. In 1958, he earned his Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering. He then decided to remain for another year, this time concentrating on chemical engineering, the same major of his father. In 1959, Koch earned his third degree from MIT, a Master of Science degree in chemical engineering. His focus was on ways to refine oil.
Not unlike his brother David –who is considered one of the most important benefactors in MIT’s modern history –Charles Koch has always showed a willingness to back his alma mater. After graduating, he became a member of the MIT Corporation from 1977-82. Koch also served as a member of two Corporation Visiting Committees, earth sciences (1978-85) and chemical engineering (1970-76). In addition, the billionaire is known to return to campus for speaking events, such as in 1997, when he gave MIT students a 90-minute presentation entitled, "Succeeding Through the Foundations of Science." Then in 2017, Koch made headlines when he announced a generous $3.7 million gift for his alma mater's Security Studies Program, a program which will help mentor the next generation of foreign policy scholars at MIT.