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General Electric CEO to address grads

Kate Antonacci | Friday, February 16, 2007

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of General Electric Co. Jeffrey R. Immelt will be the principal graduation speaker and an honorary degree recipient at Notre Dame’s May 20 commencement ceremony, University officials said Thursday.

“During his five-plus years as head of the world’s second largest company, Jeff Immelt has demonstrated the innovative philosophy, leadership traits and personal integrity that make him a business executive worthy of emulating,” University President Father John Jenkins said. “We are delighted that he will join us in May to speak to our graduates and accept an honorary degree.”

Immelt, 50, took over at GE, a Connecticut-based company, on Sept. 7, 2001 when he became the company’s ninth chairman in its 128-year history. Immelt previously served as President and Chairman-elect beginning in Nov. 2000 before he succeeded legendary CEO Jack Welch.

Born in Cincinnati, Immelt has been widely regarded recently for his “Ecomagination” initiative, GE’s plan to make more earth-friendly products.

General Electric – a company which employs over 300,000 people and whose revenue reached $163.4 billion in 2006 – makes and sells products ranging from home appliances to jet engines.

Since taking over as CEO, Immelt has committed to more-than-doubling the company’s budget for developing environmentally-friendly technology. He has also pledged GE to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one percent and to increase energy efficiency 30 percent by 2012.

Immelt studied applied mathematics at Dartmouth College and later earned a masters of business administration from Harvard University.

He began his career at GE after graduating from business school in 1982. Over his 24-year career at the company, Immelt has “held a series of global leadership roles in GE’s Plastics, Appliance, and Medical businesses,” according to the GE Web site.

Immelt has been named one of the world’s best CEOs by Barron’s magazine and has been praised for the way he has led GE, named the “World’s Most Admired Company” in a poll conducted by Fortune magazine.

Immelt serves as chairman of The Business Council and sits on the boards of the New York Federal Reserve Bank; Robin Hood, an organization which addresses New York City poverty; and Catalyst, an organization focused on advancing women in business.

Immelt currently resides in Connecticut.