Remembering a Champion of Entrepreneurship: Tom Olofson (BBA '63)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tom Olofson, founder of Epiq Systems, a global provider of technology and legal services, believed that entrepreneurial thinking was an engine for economic growth through new technologies and products.

The philosophy served him well in business. He led an investment group that acquired the predecessor to Epiq Systems and grew the company from multi-million-dollar revenues to more than $500 million in annual revenues.

Olofson sought to infuse his entrepreneurial mindset into his alma mater.

In 2003, the Tom W. and Jeanne H. Olofson Foundation donated $1.5 million through their foundation to establish the Tom W. Olofson Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies.

That groundbreaking gift helped to jumpstart the entrepreneurship and innovation programs at Pitt Business.

Today, the undergraduate College of Business Administration offers a Certificate Program in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a Business Analytics Certificate, and students can receive guidance and counsel from Entrepreneurs in Residence. The Katz School offers a certificate in Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Students from both schools are also able to participate in student organizations and case competitions geared toward entrepreneurship, including the annual university-wide Randall Family Big Idea Competition.

The Olofson gift also had a major impact on the research faculty at Katz.

The initial chair-holder was Dennis P. Slevin, a prolific researcher known for his work on the structure and execution of innovative companies. The chair is now held by Sharon Alvarez, a globally known scholar who joined the school in January 2017.

Olofson, who graduated from high school in Palm Beach, Fla., received a scholarship to play basketball at the University of Pittsburgh.

He graduated with a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1963.

He acquired Epiq Systems in 1988 and ran it as a private company, before taking the firm public on the NASDAQ stock exchange in 1997. In 2005, Epiq Systems was named one of the nation's top 25 fastest growing tech companies by Forbes magazine.

Today Epiq systems provides support in the data and logistics of bankruptcy, class action, e-discovery, and data breach responses. Clients include law firms, corporations, financial institutions, and government agencies.

Olofson died on April 8, 2017 at the age of 75.

His legacy will live on through the entrepreneurship programs he helped build at Pitt Business.