UT alumnus Chad Holliday encouraged graduates to be confident in the high value of their degree and to stay determined in their career goals.
“When you graduate from this university, you can compete on the world stage with anybody, from any time and any place,” said Holliday, who was the speaker of the fall commencement ceremony, held this morning at Thompson Boling Arena.
Holliday, chair of Bank of America and former CEO of DuPont, also received an honorary doctorate in engineering during the ceremony.
More than 1,800 UT students received undergraduate and graduate degrees at ceremonies held Friday and today.
Holliday said the American research university is a unique invention and “the best in the world by a long piece.”
“We don’t have a copyright on it, we don’t have a patent on it but all those who have tried to copy it have not been successful,” said Holliday, who recently chaired a National Research Council committee focused on strengthening higher education’s role in global competitiveness. “In this world that you’re going into, take great confidence that you have what it takes to compete.”
He asked the group to have faith in America and its ability to restore its position as a global power.
“What we have seen in 2012 is a fundamental shift in the key mechanism for a modern society, a modern economy, and that’s energy,” Holliday said. “Due primarily to American creativity, which has found a way to tap natural gas and oil that’s been here all along, we see a route now to energy stability and independence within a couple of decades.”
He added: “I’m telling you that this country is going to lead the world again and you can put that in your notebook and just check me on that over the next couple of years.”
The alumnus urged graduates to protect their integrity and to seek careers with companies and organizations that demonstrate high ethical standards.
Holliday received his bachelor’s in industrial engineering from UT’s College of Engineering in 1970. Chancellor Cheek said UT is “incredibly proud to claim him as our own, a Tennessee Volunteer.”
“Chad Holliday is an accomplished Tennessean who is firmly committed to advancing business, industry and society as a whole,” Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said. “We are proud to award him an honorary degree from his alma mater and the flagship institution of our state.”
A Nashville native, Holliday parlayed a college summer job at DuPont’s Old Hickory plant in Nashville into a 38-year career at DuPont.
Holliday is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is currently chair of the National Academy of Engineering.
Holliday also chairs the American Energy Innovation Council, whose mission is to re-establish America’s energy technology leadership in developing clean energy technologies.
Holliday and his wife, Ann Blair Holliday, have two sons, Chad and Scot.
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