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Ellen J. Kullman, E78, A12P, former CEO of DuPont, Inc., is awarded an honorary Doctor of Science during the Phase I ceremony of Tufts University's 162nd Commencement on Sunday, May 20, 2018.(Alonso Nichols /Tufts University)


You are a pioneer and a role model as well as a loyal alumna of Tufts. In 2009, you were named the CEO of DuPont, making you the first woman to lead the company in its history of more than two hundred years. During your seven years in the position, you sharpened DuPont’s focus on innovation while enhancing the company’s contributions to the global STEM community. These days you are committed to giving back. As the co-chair of Paradigm for Parity, you are leading other business executives and academics who are working toward full gender parity by 2030. You remind us that such parity is about competitiveness as well as equity: As you have put it, “Powerful evidence links gender-balanced leadership with financial and stock market outperformance.” For women looking to make their mark in careers that have not always been welcoming, your own accomplishments serve as an inspiration. From your choice to pursue engineering at Tufts to your leadership at DuPont, you have taken on and overcome stereotypes. For your own achievements and your commitment to opening opportunity for others, we proudly award you the degree of Doctor of Science honoris causa.


Named CEO in 2009, ELLEN J. KULLMAN, E78, A12P, led DuPont through the global financial crisis. Under her leadership, the company emerged with an energized focus on innovation, and its stock price more than tripled.

Now she’s bringing her hard-won wisdom to a coalition of business leaders dedicated to addressing the corporate leadership gender gap. As a co-chair of Paradigm for Parity, she is leading other CEOs, senior executives, founders, board members, and business academics who, as she said in a 2016 statement, are focused on “a new norm in corporate leadership positions.” Their goal: full gender parity by 2030, with a near-term goal of women holding at least 30 percent of senior roles.

A world in which women and men have equal power, status, and opportunity, she added, makes good business sense. “Powerful evidence links gender-balanced leadership with financial and stock market outperformance,” she said.

Kullman is a persuasive advocate for advancing women in business leadership roles. She knows well what it takes for women to succeed not only in business, but in professions traditionally dominated by men. A native of Wilmington, Delaware, she studied engineering at Tufts, graduating with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering in 1978. She went on to earn a master of science in management from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 1983. After working at General Electric, she returned to her home state of Delaware to join DuPont’s medical imaging division in 1988 as a marketing manager.

Just over two decades later, in 2009, she was promoted to CEO and chair of the board, the first woman to lead the company founded in 1802. During her seven-year tenure as CEO, she championed the power of DuPont’s science and knowledge to innovate and transform. She also focused on how DuPont could contribute knowledge to the global STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) community.

Over the course of a twenty-seven-year career at DuPont, she led double-digit growth of the company’s safety and protection business portfolio and started up DuPont subsidiaries focused on industrial biosciences and sustainable solutions. She was ranked fifth on Fortune magazine’s list of 50 most powerful women in business in 2012 and 31st on Forbes magazine’s list of 100 Most Powerful Women in 2014.

Kullman’s decisive leadership has also proved invaluable to Tufts. She joined the Board of Trustees in 2006 and was named a trustee emerita upon the conclusion of her term in 2016. She currently serves on the Board of Advisors for the Tufts School of Engineering.

She’s also channeled her enthusiasm for Tufts though philanthropy. With her husband, Michael, she created the Kullman Term Scholarship to strengthen financial aid for talented engineering students and supported an endowed fellowship in honor of former School of Engineering Dean Linda Abriola. A former basketball player at Tufts, she contributed the Kullman Women’s Basketball Team Room to the Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center.

Kullman, who retired from DuPont (now DowDuPont) in 2015, stays involved with the global scientific community. She serves on the boards for Goldman Sachs, United Technologies Corporation, and Carbon. She is an advisory council member of the Singapore Economic Development Board and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Her honors include an International Palladium Medal from the Société de Chimie Industrielle and Drexel University College of Engineering’s Leader of the Year.

Tufts will award Kullman an honorary Doctor of Science degree.