Ellen J. Kullman to Deliver Commencement Address

Former CEO of DuPont and Tufts alumna, she is among six honorary degree recipients
Ellen Kullman in 2015
“Ellen Kullman serves as an inspiration for many Tufts students and alumni, and we thank her for her decades of service to Tufts,” said President Anthony P. Monaco. Photo: AP Photo/Richard Drew
March 26, 2018

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Ellen J. Kullman, E78, A12P, retired CEO and chair of the board of DuPont—now DowDuPont, Inc., the world’s largest chemical company—will deliver the commencement address to the Tufts Class of 2018 on May 20.

Appointed CEO in 2009, Kullman served as the first female in that position in the company’s over 200-year history. Fortune magazine named her one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” in 2012, and she ranked 31st on Forbes magazine’s list of “100 Most Powerful Women” in 2014.

During her seven-year tenure as CEO, Kullman led the company’s focus on growth in emerging international markets and championed the power of DuPont’s science and knowledge to innovate and transform. She also focused on how DuPont can serve future generations and continue to grow and contribute knowledge to the global STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) community.

During her twenty-seven-year career at DuPont, she led double-digit growth of the company’s safety and protection business portfolio, and started up DuPont subsidiaries focused on industrial biosciences and sustainable solutions. Prior to joining DuPont, she worked for Westinghouse and General Electric.

Kullman earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Tufts in 1978. A Wilmington, Delaware native, Kullman also holds a master’s of science in management from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

In addition to serving the global scientific community, Kullman has been dedicated to giving back to her alma mater, joining the Tufts Board of Trustees in 2006. She served as a member of the board’s Academic Affairs, Audit, Compensation, and Executive Committees and was named a trustee emerita upon the conclusion of her term in 2016.

She currently serves on the Board of Advisors for the Tufts School of Engineering, and addressed engineering graduates at the Class of 2017’s commencement.

“Ellen Kullman serves as an inspiration for many Tufts students and alumni, and we thank her for her decades of service to Tufts,” said President Anthony P. Monaco. “It is our great pleasure to welcome her back to campus to address the newest class of Tufts alumni, their families and friends, the university community, and her fellow Jumbos from the Class of 1978, who will celebrate their fortieth reunion during commencement weekend.”

At commencement, which begins at 9 a.m. on the academic quad of Tufts’ Medford/Somerville campus, Kullman will receive an honorary doctor of science degree. Five other distinguished men and women will also receive honorary degrees:

José Andrés, award-winning chef, humanitarian, and educator. Andrés is a committed advocate of food and hunger issues, and is known for championing the role of chefs in the national debate on food policy. In 2012, he formed World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that provides solutions to hunger and poverty by using the power of food to empower communities and strengthen economies. To date, Andrés and World Central Kitchen, along with #ChefsForPuertoRico, have served over 3.3 million meals to the people of Puerto Rico following the devastating Hurricane Maria. He is the only chef globally with both a two-star Michelin restaurant and four Bib Gourmands. Andrés will receive an honorary doctor of public service degree, and will address graduates of the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy as part of commencement on May 20.

Ashton “Ash” Carter, who served as the twenty-fifth Secretary of Defense during the Obama administration from 2015 to 2017. A Rhodes Scholar, Carter has spent more than three decades in the service of eleven secretaries of defense in both Democratic and Republican administrations. With knowledge of technology, global strategy, and policy, he is a five-time recipient of the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the department’s highest honor. He currently is director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, as well as an Innovation Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. Carter will also deliver the Class Day speech at the Fletcher School on Saturday, May 19.

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, former president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropic health-care organization. Lavizzo-Mourey has worked for more than thirty years as a medical practitioner, policymaker, and educator. Under her leadership, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation evaluated and implemented transformative programs tackling the country’s most pressing health issues, including the childhood obesity epidemic, the nursing shortage, the need for robust public health policy and universal health care access and affordability, with the goal of creating a national culture of health. A world-renowned expert on health policy and geriatric medicine, Lavizzo-Mourey currently serves as a University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

Arturo O’Farrill, multiple Grammy Award-winning composer, pianist, and educator. O’Farrill is the founder and artistic director of the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance and leader of the eighteen-piece Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, which has performed at many of the world’s most renowned venues. He is a passionate advocate for the genres of Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz and for their greater recognition and appreciation among the wider jazz audience. As an educator, O’Farrill has taught master classes, seminars, and workshops throughout the world for students and teachers at all levels. O’Farrill has performed as a solo musician with a wide spectrum of artists, including Dizzy Gillespie, Steve Turre, Freddy Cole, the Fort Apache Band, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte. He will receive an honorary doctor of music degree.

Farah Pandith, F95, who served as the first-ever Special Representative to Muslim Communities for the U.S. Department of State during the Obama administration. Appointed in 2009, Pandith was tasked with engaging with Muslims globally to fight terrorism with strategic diplomacy. She especially focused on early intervention among Muslim youth, traveling to nearly one hundred countries to build initiatives and networks to counter violent extremist ideology. A pioneer in the field of countering violent extremism, Pandith has served three presidents, working at the National Security Council, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Department of State in a variety of roles. She is currently affiliated with the Council on Foreign Relations and Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She received a Master’s degree in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1995. She will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree.

In addition, former Steinway Musical Instruments CEO Dana Messina, E83, will address graduates of the School of Engineering as part of its commencement ceremony on May 20, and Akcea Therapeutics president and CEO Paula Soteropoulos, E89, J89, EG90, will address graduates of the School of Engineering’s graduate programs as part of commencement exercises on May 19.