The degree was approved by the Board of Trustees at its meeting today. Holliday will receive an honorary doctorate in engineering at the December 15 commencement ceremony, where he will be the featured speaker.
Holliday graduated in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and has been a longtime supporter of his college and the university.
“He has benefited UT by giving his time, his advice, his advocacy, and his gifts,” said Wayne Davis, dean of the College of Engineering, in nominating Holliday for the honorary degree. “He has contributed to society by leading DuPont—one of the Fortune 500’s largest international companies—in sustainable growth, and by giving thoughtful guidance to political, community, and educational endeavors at local, national, and international levels.”
Holliday parlayed a college summer job at DuPont’s Old Hickory plant in Nashville into a thirty-eight-year career at DuPont, the largest chemical company in the United States. He served as CEO for ten years. While leading DuPont, Holliday made sustainable growth—increasing company value while decreasing the environmental footprint—a core mission.
In 2004, Holliday was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and he also was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010. He currently serves as chairman of the National Academy of Engineering.
Holliday co-chairs the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Group on Sustainable Energy for All, a group that includes distinguished global leaders in business, finance, government, and civil society.
He also chairs the American Energy Innovation Council, whose mission is to re-establish America’s energy technology leadership in developing clean energy technologies. Members include Bill Gates as well as Jeff Immelt of General Electric.
While chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Holliday co-authored the book Walking the Talk, a detailed business case for sustainable development and corporate responsibility.
Holiday received the 1999 Nathan Dougherty Award, the highest honor given by the UT College of Engineering. He received the first Volunteer of the Year Distinguished Alumnus Award from UT in 2008. He also served as co-chair of the College of Engineering’s campaign committee for the Campaign for Tennessee and on the board of directors for the UT Development Council.
He serves on the board of directors for many companies and organizations, including Deere & Co., Royal Dutch Shell, CH2M Hill, the Climate Works Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund, the National Geographic Education Foundation, and the United Nations Global Compact.
Holliday is past chair of Catalyst, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding opportunities for women in business. He is also past chair of the US Council on Competitiveness, a nonpartisan governmental organization working to ensure US prosperity. He is a founding member of the International Business Council.
A native of Nashville, Holliday and his wife, Ann Blair Holliday, have two sons, Chad and Scot.