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 RIVER GROVE, Ill., Nov. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Robert J.R. Follett announced Saturday that he will retire effective March 28, 1994, after 16 years as chairman of Follett Corp., a leading supplier of textbooks and services to educational institutions.
 Follett will be succeeded as chairman by Richard M. Traut, president of Follett Campus Resources, one of the company's six divisions.
 Under Follett's chairmanship, the 120-year-old corporation more than tripled in size and expanded into new fields, ranging from computer software for schools and libraries to custom publishing of anthologies for college instruction. Its products touch millions of students from kindergarten to graduate school. Sales in 1993 topped $611 million.
 In making his announcement, Follett noted that his action was in accordance with company policy that requires senior managers to retire at the age of 65.
 Follett began his career with the corporation in 1951 as an editor of text and trade books. He went on to become advertising and sales manager and editor-in-chief of Follett Publishing Company and served for 10 years as president of that division. In 1977, he succeeded his father, Dwight Follett, as chairman of Follett Corp.
 Robert Follett's first job with the company was at the age of 10, when his father asked him to read a series of social studies textbooks out loud to determine if they were clearly written and easily understood by fifth graders. As an 11-year-old, he sorted books for 10 cents an hour.
 As chairman, Follett played a major role in company efforts to spread literacy among young people. One notable project was the "City Reading Program," a series of textbooks that emphasized cultural diversity. Developed in the early 1960s, the program was the first multi-racial textbook series and paved the way for additional books depicting racially and ethnically diverse characters and settings.
 Follett also led his company in its contributions to the early "Learning To Read" movement. Most notably, in 1957 Follett teamed with Elizabeth Guilfoile, a reading teacher from Kentucky, to publish "Nobody Listens to Andrew," a groundbreaking volume designed to help children teach themselves to read. That same year, Dr. Seuss and Random House published "The Cat in the Hat," based on the same concept.
 "Leading this company for the last decade and a half has been an extremely rewarding experience," said Follett. "I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to help some of the gifted people who work for this company realize their potential. Follett is a special company with a special mission to serve education, and I'm proud to have been a part of it."
 Follett is a graduate of Brown University and served with the U.S. Army during the Korean War.
 Follett's successor, Richard M. Traut, 60, is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and attended the University of Chicago Graduate School for Business.
 He began his career in 1958 as a management trainee for the Follett College Book Company (FCBC), a wholesale distributor of textbooks to college bookstores, and the predecessor of Follett Campus Resources. Traut became assistant general manager of FCBC in 1965, and was named President in 1974.
 Traut said that Follett Corp. will continue to develop its expertise in rapidly changing information technology. He credited Robert Follett for pushing the company to be one of the first in their field to invest in such technology.
 "Bob Follett's ability to see trends in this business have positioned us very well for the transition period our industry faces," said Traut. "His background in publishing and his commitment to new business development have enabled him to stay abreast of these changes. Through his vision, he has encouraged his employees to explore new markets and technologies."
 Traut, son-in-law of Robert D. Follett, will be the first chairman not to carry the family name. It is very unusual for a family-owned company to succeed through the fourth generation of management. Only one in 2,000 companies that employ 2,000 or more people reach that goal.
 The Follett Corp. has been a fixture in the Chicago area since the early 1870s, when it began as a single bookstore. Today, the family- owned company employs over 6,000 people in 47 states and Canada. The company manages college bookstores; distributes books to schools, colleges and libraries; publishes software for library and bookstore management; and provides custom textbook publishing services.
 -0- 11/16/93
 /CONTACT: Dave Thompson of Ogilvy Adams & Rinehart, 312-988-2803/

CO: Follett Corp. ST: Illinois IN: REA SU: PER

SH -- NY069 -- 5126 11/16/93 13:18 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 16, 1993

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