William C. "Bill" Ford Jr. '75, executive chairman of the board of Ford Motor Company, has been named the 2018 Alumni Award recipient. He will be honored on Nov. 2 during an All-School Assembly in the Katherine M. Elfers Hall in the Esther Eastman Music Center.
Ford leads the company that put the world on wheels into a new era of sustainable, accessible, and affordable mobility. His journey into the future is guided by ideas and ideals he developed in the past.
"I grew up loving the outdoors, but my strong environment ethic really began at Hotchkiss. What I learned there about the issues confronting the natural world set the stage for the environmental advocacy I pursued in the years that followed."
After Hotchkiss, Ford earned his B.A. from Princeton, then an M.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined Ford Motor Company in 1979 as a product planning analyst and held positions in manufacturing, sales, marketing, product development, and finance. He joined the board of directors in 1988 and has been its chairman since 1999. He was named executive chairman in 2006.
"When I joined the company I was an enthusiastic environmentalist at a time when most people in the auto industry didn't want to go beyond regulatory compliance. But I kept speaking out about the environment and sustainability, and in time, my views became the consensus."
Ford's top priority echoes that of his great-grandfather, Henry Ford: making people's lives better. He continues to focus on making his company "green," but in recent years, he has taken on a new challenge: transforming it into a leader of future mobility.
"To address issues ranging from traffic congestion and climate change to economic disruption and public health the auto industry is undergoing its most revolutionary transformation in more than 100 years. In the near future, cars will be radically different: capable of driving themselves and powered by clean, renewable electricity, with an incredible array of information and entertainment options. They will be integrated into systems that tie public and private transportation together and accessed, owned, and used in ways we never imagined in the past."
Throughout a career that spans nearly four decades, Ford has emphasized the importance of improving lives and serving society. In 2015, he was presented with Steven Spielberg's USC Shoah Foundation's prestigious Ambassador for Humanity Award. In 2017, he received the Atlantic Council Distinguished Business Leadership Award. A member of the Irish America Hall of Fame, he also has been awarded an honorary doctorate of environmental sciences and engineering degree from Koç University, an honorary doctorate of law degree from the University of Michigan, an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree from Bradley University, and an honorary doctorate of economic science from University College Cork and the National University of Ireland.