KU News Release

Dec. 14, 2011
Contact: Jack Martin, Office of Public Affairs, 785-864-7100

KU honorary degree recipient: Alan Mulally

Alan Mulally

For the degree of Doctor of Science: Alan Mulally, for notable contributions to engineering and the transportation industry

After 37 years at Boeing, Alan Mulally became a “car guy,” taking over the titles of chief executive and president of Ford Motor Company in 2006. At Boeing, he was responsible for the company’s commercial airplane programs, having made significant technical contributions to the design, safety and competitiveness of Boeing’s lineup planes. By 2006 he was executive vice president and president and chief executive officer of the Commercial Airplane division. He restructured Boeing’s line of aircraft, redesigned its supplier base and production lines, and led Boeing into the digital age of aircraft design.

At Ford, he was faced with falling sales, slumping profits and the loss of market share to rival companies. Within five years, he rebuilt Ford, engineering a global comeback. His foresight led to restructuring Ford’s financial situation in 2006 by borrowing $24 billion. That “home improvement loan” enabled Ford to weather the 2008 economic downturn without the need of a bailout from the federal government. Under Mulally, Ford has repaid $20 billion of that debt by transforming its manufacturing, design and lineup of vehicles, turning out cars that “looked better, drove better and went further on a gallon of gas.” He also saved the jobs of the 46,000 Ford employees in North America and 200,000 employees worldwide.

Mulally’s contributions to the transportation industry have not gone unnoticed. He’s been named “Businessperson of the Year” by the readers of Fortune magazine, “Industry Leader of the Year” by Automotive News, one of “The World’s Most Influential People” by Time magazine, one of the “30 Most Respected CEOs” by Barron’s, and “Person of the Year” by both the Financial Times and Aviation Week. He serves on the President’s Export Council, advising President Obama on ways to encourage companies to increase exports and develop new markets, and he has served on the advisory boards to many organizations, including NASA, MIT, the U.S. Air Force and KU. He is the past president of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the past chairman of the Board of Governors of the Aerospace Industries Association. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Engineering and the Royal Academy of Engineering. He received the 2011 Edison Achievement Award in recognition of “the boldness of vision and leadership” he brought to Ford. A native of Lawrence, Kan., he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from KU and a master’s in management from MIT.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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