Robert W Galvin

It is indeed fitting that the University of Limerick should honour Robert Galvin, long time chairman of the Motorola Corporation, with the highest award that it is in our power to bestow.  He exemplifies many of those corporate and human values which this University wishes to convey to its students and to Irish society.

Bob Galvin is welcome here in Ireland's Mid-West; in fact he was born in the American Mid-West, in Marshfield, Wisconsin to be precise.  While he was still at high school he began working as a stockman, for his father's firm, the Galvin Manufacturing Company, which was soon to grow into the Motorola Corporation.  Once he had graduated from high school he joined the company as a full-time employee and was quickly promoted through the ranks.  He became president of the company in 1956 and chairman shortly afterwards, a position he held until January of 1990.  During that period Motorola's turnover grew from to and its operations spread from the United States to embrace most of the developed world.  Motorola is now a global leader in many fields but is especially prominent in electronics manufacturing and in wireless communications.

However impressive may be the bottom line results at Motorola, and they have been excellent, it is the manner in which this excellence has been achieved that stands as testimony to Bob Galvin's values and ideals.  These can be summarised in the phrase "achieve total quality by valuing people".  At an early stage in his career Bob Galvin recognised that, in a world of increasing competition, people are the deciding factor.  He advocated, and ensured the provision of, training and education for all employees at all levels and in all areas of the Motorola Corporation.  This commitment to continuing education, in which it currently invests more than per annum, has made Motorola a leader in developing effective and far-sighted managers and technologists.  Among Irish graduates Motorola is known as a "good place to work", not only because of the material rewards, although these are as good as anywhere, still less because the work is easy - in fact there is none more challenging or demanding - but primarily because Motorola is known to be dedicated to achieving the highest possible levels of quality and, in the process, to developing the full potential of every employee.

Bob Galvin spearheaded Motorola's effort to improve quality and to achieve total customer satisfaction.  One result was that the Motorola Corporation was the first recipient of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.  The continuing result, evident to anyone dealing with Motorola, is a profound commitment by all of its employees to setting and then surpassing the highest standards of quality in every market sector.  Bob Galvin instituted a formal programme of visits to both suppliers and customers, thereby forging alliances that helped many small companies survive the rigours of international competition.  He also established Motorola's New Enterprises organisation, described as "an entrepreneurial greenhouse that helps keep Motorola at the leading edge of technology".

Reflecting his commitment to excellence and development, Bob Galvin has served on many committees and boards.  He was president of the Electronics Industries Association, chairman of the Industry Policy Advisory Committee for the United States GATT negotiating team, and he has also been chairman of the Board of Overseers of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.  Bob Galvin is currently chairman of President Clinton's Advisory Council on Private Sector Initiatives and also of Sematech, an industry- government research consortium.

Bob Galvin has received many honours during his long and distinguished career.  In additional to honorary degrees from numerous universities, including those of St Xavier (Chicago), Arizona and de Paul, he has received the Sword of Loyola Award from Loyola University in Chicago.  For his outstanding contribution to the electronics industry he has been awarded the Medal of Honour by the Electronics Industries Association and the Golden Omega Award by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, while in 1998 he received the Medal of Achievement from the American Electronics Association.

As far as I can ascertain, Bob Galvin has never kissed the Blarney Stone, but it would seem he never needed to.  While he was still at high school, spending summers in the company stock room, he spoke eloquently to a National Distributors' Convention.  In later life he was well known to United States TV viewers as the "man in the Motorola commercials", an unusual role for the chief executive at any time.  Internationally, he played a major part in persuading Japanese business to lower trade barriers by personally writing a series of major advertisements that emphasised Motorola's commitment to fair competition and to total quality.

In the light of these outstanding achievements, in recognition of his dedication to high ideals, and as a statement that the University of Limerick shares the goal of quality through human development, it is fitting that Bob Galvin be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University.