New York University President John Sexton today bestowed an honorary doctorate on NYU-Poly alumna and Xerox chief executive officer Ursula M. Burns at NYU's 178th Commencement Exercises in Yankee Stadium. Over 25,000 graduates, faculty, staff, and guests attended the morning ceremony.
The following citation was read in conferring the Doctor of Commercial Science degree, honoris causa, on Ursula M. Burns:
"Ursula M. Burns—chief executive officer of Xerox Corporation, one of America’s most innovative, global companies, whose name we use as a verb. A math ace from the projects in Lower Manhattan, you were inspired by a wise mother to achieve an exceptional education at NYU’s Polytechnic Institute and Columbia University, earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in mechanical engineering. You began your affiliation with Xerox as a Polytechnic summer intern in 1980 and 20 years later were serving as senior vice president for strategic services and shortly thereafter, president of Business Group Operations, responsible for a $12.5 billion organization comprising five business divisions and the company’s engineering center. Named CEO in July 2009, within a few months you had undertaken the largest acquisition in your company’s history, moving Xerox along the path from a seller of printing equipment and services to a leader in gathering, analyzing, and sharing information. Possessed of a global vision, operational discipline, fearless and decisive management, and deep respect for the opinions of your colleagues, you are a model of enlightened corporate leadership. Wisely, President Barack Obama named you in November 2009 to help lead the national White House initiative to help students excel in science, technology, engineering, and math.
"Ursula M. Burns—as the first black woman to head a Fortune 500 company, you have reached the pinnacle of your profession through hard work and high performance. By virtue of the authority vested in me by New York University, I am pleased to confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Commercial Science, honoris causa."