Ellen J. Kullman, former CEO of DuPont, to speak at Tufts commencement May 20

Tufts alumna, a leader in business and STEM, is among six honorary degree recipients
Ellen Kullman
Ellen J. Kullman, the first female CEO of DuPont, received her B.S. from the Tufts University School of Engineering (Image courtesy of Ellen Kullman)
March 27, 2018

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Robin Smyton


MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. (March 27, 2018)—Former DuPont CEO Ellen J. Kullman, a Tufts alumna, will return to campus to deliver the commencement address to the Tufts University Class of 2018 on Sunday, May 20. Kullman will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science degree at the ceremony to be held at 9 a.m. on The Green on Tufts' Medford/Somerville campus.

Kullman is best-known as the retired CEO and chair of the board of DuPont, now DowDuPont, Inc., the world's largest chemical company. Appointed in 2009, Kullman served as the first female CEO 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 27-year career at DuPont, she led double-digit growth of the company's Safety & 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 is a member of the Tufts Class of 1978, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. 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.

Kullman is both a faithful Jumbo and a Tufts parent; her daughter Margaret graduated from Tufts in 2012.

"Ellen Kullman serves as an inspiration for many Tufts students and alumni, and we thank her for her decades of service to Tufts," said Tufts University 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 40th reunion during commencement weekend."

In addition to Kullman, those receiving honorary degrees at Tufts' commencement will include:

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, Andrés formed World Central Kitchen, a non-profit that provides smart 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. He will receive an Honorary Doctor of Public Service. Andrés will also address graduates of the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy as part of the commencement festivities on Sunday, May 20.

Ashton "Ash" Carter, who served as the 25th Secretary of Defense during the Obama administration from 2015-2017. A Rhodes Scholar, Carter has spent more than three decades in the service of 11 secretaries of defense in both Democratic and Republican administrations. Leveraging his knowledge of technology, global strategy and policy, he has dedicated his career to the men and women serving in the military and in the Department of Defense. Carter 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. Carter will also deliver the Class Day speech at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University on Saturday, May 19.

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, 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 30 years as a medical practitioner, policy-maker and educator. Under her guidance and 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.

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 18-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.

Farah Pandith, 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 100 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, U.S. Agency for International Development and 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.

Former Steinway Musical Instruments CEO Dana Messina, a Tufts alumnus, will address graduates of the School of Engineering as part of the commencement festivities on Sunday, May 20.

Akcea Therapeutics President and CEO Paula Soteropoulos, also a Tufts alumna, will address graduates of the School of Engineering's graduate programs as part of commencement festivities on Saturday, May 19.


About Tufts University

Tufts University, located on campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville and Grafton, Massachusetts, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university's schools is widely encouraged.