Ursula M. Burns, chairman and chief executive officer of Xerox Corporation, will receive the University of Rochester's George Eastman Medal for outstanding achievement and dedicated service, and she will deliver the 161st College commencement address on Sunday, May 15.
A member of the University's Board of Trustees since 2002, Burns leads the $22-billion-dollar Xerox Corporation, which began in Rochester and has grown to become the world's leading enterprise for business process and document management. She was named Xerox chief executive officer in 2009 and assumed the role of chairman of the company in 2010.
"Ursula Burns and Xerox are iconic illustrations of our knowledge-based economy," said University President Joel Seligman. "Ursula's selection by President Obama as an advisor on global exports and improving U.S. science, technology, engineering, and math education highlights her national stature."
"Xerox Chief Executive Officers Ursula Burns, David Kearns, Joseph Wilson, and Anne Mulcahy are extraordinary leaders whose personal and professional achievements have placed an indelible mark on the University and the city of Rochester," said Seligman.
Burns joined Xerox in 1980 as a mechanical engineering summer intern and later assumed roles in product development and planning. From 1992 through 2000, she led several business teams, including the office color and fax business, and office network printing business. In 2000, she was named senior vice president for Corporate Strategic Services, heading manufacturing and supply chain operations.
She then took on the broader role of leading Xerox's global research as well as product development, marketing, and delivery. In April 2007, Burns was named president of Xerox, expanding her leadership to also include the company's IT organization, corporate strategy, human resources, corporate marketing, and global accounts. At that time, she also was elected as a member of the company's Board of Directors.
In addition to the Xerox board, she is a director of the American Express Corporation, and also provides leadership counsel to many community, educational, and nonprofit organizations.
"We honor Ursula Burns with the George Eastman Medal, which recognizes a great benefactor of the University of Rochester who believed in the value of education, to applaud her dedication to nuture talent in others—in the same way she was encouraged as a student and a Xerox employee," said Richard Feldman, dean of the College.
Since her 2009 selection as CEO, Burns has attracted national interest because Xerox became the first international company "to transition from one female CEO to another" when she followed former CEO and Xerox chairman Anne Mulcahy. In 2009 and 2010, Forbes magazine listed Burns as one of the 20 most powerful women in the world.
A native of Manhattan, Burns earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Polytechnic Institute of New York University, and a master of science degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University.
Note to editors: High-resolution images of Ursula Burns can be downloaded from the Xerox website. Please credit Xerox Corporation for all images used.