A global business icon, a generous patron and invaluable civic leader, Bob Galvin was for a half-century one of IIT's greatest friends and leaders. He recognized the powerful educational potential of our university and seized an opportunity to bring his talents to bear in guiding the institution.
Bob Galvin is renowned for transforming Motorola, Inc., from a manufacturer of consumer electronics to a global leader in the manufacture and distribution of cellular telephones, paging devices, hand-held two-way mobile radios and microprocessors.
He began his career working for Motorola in 1940 and joined the company's board in 1945, becoming president in 1956, chairman of the board in 1964 and CEO in 1969. He led Motorola in its expansion into new industries and international markets until relinquishing his CEO role in 1990. Bob retired from the Motorola Board of Directors in 2001, but remained an adviser and ambassador for the company.
Under Bob Galvin's leadership, Motorola spearheaded programs to improve quality, foster innovation, and achieve total customer satisfaction. Most notably, the quality improvement strategy known as Six Sigma became a widely adopted model, earning Motorola the first Malcom Baldrige National Quality Award in 1988. Bob also championed employee education and training, establishing one of the most respected corporate universities.
Commitment to IIT
IIT has benefited continuously from Bob Galvin's leadership since he became a trustee in 1953. He served as chairman from 1979 to 1990 and sat on three steering bodies on the future of IIT— in 1975, 1985 and as chairman in 1993. Throughout the 1990s, Bob inspired the university community to embed quality principles into teaching and administration, much as he had promoted quality management at Motorola.
As chairman of the National Commission for IIT during 1993 and 1994, Bob challenged the university and its trustees to think anew about the future mission and role of IIT. Inspired by his directive, the commission recommended that the university’s colleges collaborate in creating an interprofessional education core to enable our students to be leading professionals in a complex technological world. Bob Galvin, together with Bob Pritzker, catalyzed the university's reinvigoration by co-initiating the IIT Challenge Campaign with their $120 million gift in 1996.
In 1990, IIT presented him with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, and in 1996, he received the university’s Henry Heald Award. IIT dedicated the Paul V. Galvin Library in 1985 to recognize the Galvin family's commitment to the institution.
Bob Galvin personally supported many educational, healthcare, civic and community service organizations, including Junior Achievement of Chicago, the Santa Fe Institute, and The Character Education. He received The Henry Crown Leadership Award, the IEEE Founders Medal, and the inaugural Chicago Historical Society Making History Award. He was also a noted author and speaker in such areas as competitiveness, innovation, education, quality and service.
Several of the nation's presidents have called on Bob to serve on national boards and commissions. He led efforts to promote fair trade and build solid relationships between the U.S. electronics industry and national governments. In 1991, President Bush awarded Bob the National Medal of Technology, one of the nation's highest civilian honors. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2002.