Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) announced today that Rex Tillerson, chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ExxonMobil, will deliver the address at the university’s 143rd commencement exercises on Saturday, May 14, 2011.
"Rex Tillerson is one of this nation's most successful business leaders, a recognized and respected authority on energy, a champion of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, and a friend to WPI," said WPI President and CEO Dennis D. Berkey. "Energy availability and affordability is a global issue with massive ethical, economic, and environmental implications. We will look to new generations of scientists and engineers for the ideas and technologies we need to meet growing energy demands in an environmentally sensitive and sustainable manner. To this end, Rex Tillerson has led ExxonMobil to dedicate millions of dollars in support of advancing STEM education in this country. We are delighted that he will be sharing his insight and knowledge with our graduates and their families."
Named by Fortune as one of the "25 Most Powerful People in Business," Tillerson was appointed in 2006 to the role of chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil - one of the world's largest corporations, with 80,703 employees on six continents. He joined Exxon as a production engineer in 1975 and has held a variety of positions within the corporation over the past 36 years. Highlights of his career include serving as president and a member of the Exxon Mobil Corporation board of directors; his leadership of operations in Russia and parts of the Middle East during the mid-1990s; and his oversight of oil and gas production operations throughout a large portion of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas in the late 1980s to early 1990s.
Outside of ExxonMobil, Tillerson is a member of the executive committee and a former chairman of the American Petroleum Institute. He is also a trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a member of the National Petroleum Council, a member of the Business Roundtable, an honorary trustee of the Business Council for International Understanding, and a member of the Emergency Committee for American Trade. He currently serves as the national president of the Boy Scouts of America and vice chairman of the Ford's Theatre Society; he previously served as the director of the United Negro College Fund. In addition, Tillerson is a member of the Chancellor's Council and the Engineering Advisory Board for the Society of Petroleum Engineers chapter at his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a bachelor of science in civil engineering.
Over the years, ExxonMobil has been a generous donor to WPI, with gifts totaling more than $1.3 million. This generosity has had a direct impact on the university's K-12 STEM outreach programs, which are among the most comprehensive in the nation. WPI works with students and teachers in elementary, middle, and secondary schools through a variety of programs that range from engaging girls and students from underrepresented minorities in the STEM disciplines to providing training and classroom resources for teachers. One example of this generosity is the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp, a free two-week residential program in which underrepresented middle-school students experience the university's state-of-the-art robotics, science, engineering, and mathematics programs, and teachers are provided professional development training. First offered at WPI in 2009, the camp will return to campus this summer.
ExxonMobil has also been a top employer of WPI graduates, having hired 31 alumni over the past 10 years. One particularly outstanding WPI hire was Michael J. Dolan, '75, senior vice president of Exxon Mobil Corporation. Dolan built a distinguished 30-year career by solving problems around the world in almost every aspect of the oil industry, including design and manufacturing, sales, marketing, and management. He credits WPI's innovative project-based curriculum as the foundation for his own success, and he gives back to his alma mater as a member of the WPI Board of Trustees and as a leading fundraiser for the university.