Martha abd Cortlandt Dietler
It takes a strong vision and unwavering confidence to build as many companies as Cortlandt Dietler did during his lifetime. Those same attributes that brought him business success were quickly and freely shared with his alma mater both through his service as a TU Trustee and through his philanthropic giving. Both helped shape TU into a stronger and more vibrant university.
Cort Dietler graduated from TU in 1947 with bachelor's degrees in both history and political science, then landed his first job with ARAMCO in Lebanon. The following year, he married Tulsa native Martha S. Nicholson who had earned her degree in speech from TU in 1944 and was a Braille instructor. A new job took the newlyweds away from Oklahoma that year, but the couple remained connected to their alma mater during the next six decades.
During his legendary career, Cort Dietler started more than 30 oil and gas companies. Such was Cort's reputation as a serial entrepreneur that an industry profile noted that he "started more companies than most people have bought suits and ties." Each venture would become more successful than the last, and he built a legendary career built on his hallmarks of integrity, straight talk, and self-reliance. Throughout it all, Martha remained one of his most trusted advisors.
With his generous spirit, Cort provided his business insights and acumen to the university while he was a Trustee from 1987 until 2000. During the New Century Campaign in the 1990s, Cort served as the honorary chairman and member of the executive campaign cabinet. His service to the university was likely patterned after his father, Ralph, who was a TU Trustee from 1935-1941.
Through the years, the Dietlers have provided support to crucial university initiatives, including the recent expansion of McFarlin Library that now includes the Cort and Martha Dietler Café. This popular hangout provides a comfortable space for students to enjoy a cup of coffee or a light snack while taking a break from their studies. The couple also provided major support for the construction of the Donald W. Reynolds Center, and the university's Presidential Scholarship Fund and Annual Fund.
In recognition of his tremendous professional accomplishments, Cort was named in 1975 as a TU Distinguished Alumnus, the university's highest honor. In 2001, he was honored with the Henry Kendall College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Service Award.
Cort passed away in 2008 in Denver, where his wife, Martha, continues to live. Through a transformative estate gift, they established the Martha S. and Cortlandt S. Dietler Facilities Maintenance Endowment, which will be used to preserve, maintain, repair and renovate TU's main campus. This gift provides a lasting legacy that will ensure that today's progress can be maintained in perpetuity. In honor of the couple's lifetime of service and commitment, the campus "U", which proudly stretches westward from McFarlin Library to Delaware Avenue, will be renamed the Cortlandt and Martha Dietler Commons.