Jim Owens Honorary Degree Presentation
Presented by John Spittell, Professor and Chair of Business and Management, Executive-in-Residence
June 05, 2010
Mr. President: I have the honor to present to you Dr. Jim Owens as a candidate for the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.
Jim Owens has distinguished himself both in his personal and professional life with dedication and service to family, society, government, education, and, of course, to the men and women of Caterpillar.
He is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Caterpillar, Inc., the world's largest manufacturer of construction equipment, diesel and natural gas engines and industrial gas turbines. Born in North Carolina, he attended North Carolina State University where he received a B.S. and an M.S. in Textile Technology, and a Ph.D. in Economics.
Jim joined Caterpillar in 1972 as a corporate economist becoming the Chief Economist of Caterpillar Overseas S.A. in Geneva Switzerland in 1975. From 1980 to 1987 he held managerial positions in Peoria in the Accounting and Product Source Planning Departments. In 1987 he was promoted to Managing Director of P. T. Natra Yaya, a Caterpillar joint venture in Indonesia, and held that position until 1990. He was elected to corporate vice president in 1990 and named President of Solar Turbines, a Caterpillar subsidiary in San Diego. In 1993 he became the Chief Financial Officer of Caterpillar. Named a Group President in 1995, Jim became a member of Caterpillar's Executive Office. During the next nine years, at various times, he was responsible for 13 of the company's 25 divisions. He became Vice Chairman of Caterpillar's Board of Directors in December 2003 and was named Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer in February 2004. Jim has guided a globalized "Team Cat" through evolutionary and challenging times to the pinnacle where it stands today.
n addition to his other professional accomplishments, Jim is a Director of the Institute for International Economics in Washington D.C., a Director of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, a member of the prestigious Business Roundtable, and Chairman of the Business Council. He is a member of President Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, a member of the President's Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, and a member of the Global Advisory Council to The Conference Board in New York. Jim is also a member of the Board of Directors of Alcoa and IBM.
As a member of the Board of Trustees of North Carolina State University, his alma matter, Jim Owens serves on the Audit, Finance, and Planning Committee and the Buildings and Property Committee. He is a recipient of NC State's prestigious Watauga Medal. He was also named the College of Management's Alumnus of the Year 1999 and Person of the Year 2009. He loves the Wolfpack.
Here in Illinois, Jim Owens is a member of the Civic Federation Board in Peoria and a member of the Community Advisory Board of Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria. He was instrumental in enabling the construction of the new Children's Hospital of Illinois, part of the OSF St. Francis Medical Center Foundation in Peoria. Jim Owens's leadership in business and industry and his commitment to individual and corporate civic responsibility are consistent with the commitment of Knox College to help educate students to succeed, and through their success, to improve the lives of others.
Mr. President, it is indeed an honor and a great personal privilege to present for the degree of Doctor of Laws, Jim Owens.
Presented by John A. Spittell III, Professor of Business and Management, Executive-in-Residence