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Serra alum tells students that giving back is the key to success

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Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Mike Linn, a 1970 Serra Catholic High School graduate, returned to his alma mater Friday to speak with students about his career in the natural gas and oil industry.

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By Jennifer R. Vertullo
Saturday, April 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

When Mike Linn attended Serra Catholic High School in the late 1960s, the atmosphere was different than today.

The all-male student body wore jackets and ties to classes taught by Franciscan clergy with strict classroom guidelines. And while today's co-ed environment allows students to abide by a more casual dress code in classes taught by laypersons, one thing remains unchanged — a commitment to Catholic values.

“During the course of my career, it's the few years that I spent at Serra where I learned a lot about how to make decisions and what was right and wrong,” Linn told students and teachers during a Friday assembly.

Linn, a 1970 Serra grad, said the message didn't quite resonate in his youth, but it resurfaced as he built a career in big business.

Linn is the president of MCL Ventures and the former chairman, CEO and president of Linn Energy, which he founded after a more than 20-year career in the natural gas and oil industry. Leading a team of dedicated employees, he grew Linn Energy from a small private company to a publicly traded company with an enterprise value of more than $20 billion.

While many people are in big business to make money, Linn said there's more to life than that. He said he wanted to build a company where people would enjoy their work, take pride in it and give back to the community that supports it.

“Giving back is part of what Serra taught me,” Linn said. “That's the Christian spirit — giving back to the community and helping the less fortunate.”

While growing with the natural gas and oil industry, Linn has adopted a wide network of charitable organizations that improve the quality of lives in many communities. He said no matter who you are or what you have, you should treat everyone the same and give them the same chances.

“I believe that everyone, especially children, should have the opportunity to live healthy lives and expand their horizons through the arts and education,” he said.

Because he lost his son to a congenital heart defect, he understands the priceless value of medical research. He established the Texas Children's Hospital Matthew Linn Endowed Fund in Congenital Heart Surgery and the Matthew Linn Fund for Congenital Heart Surgery Education and Training.

Linn last spoke to Serra students during the 2011 commencement and was named a distinguished alum that year. The generosity of Linn and his wife, Carol Linn, enabled the renovation of Serra locker rooms. He also is a chair of Serra's Campaign for the Future and a lead donor.

Linn and his wife will serve as honorary chairs of Serra's 21st annual Juniper Journey Auction, set for Saturday at Edgewood Country Club.

Serra president Diane DiNardi said it's encouraging to know that Linn's time at Serra played a part in his success.

“I hope you were inspired by what you heard today,” DiNardi told students. “Even after such success, Mike and Carol Linn are people just like us.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or

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