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05-14-2000

Eastman Kodak Chairman Of The Board George M.c. Fisher Awarded Clarkson University Honorary Degree

Potsdam, N.Y. -- Eastman Kodak Chairman of the Board George M.C. Fisher received an honorary doctor of science degree at Clarkson University's 107th Commencement in Potsdam, N.Y., on Sunday, May 14.

The degree was awarded "for his visionary leadership, resourcefulness, and pioneering role in imaginatively guiding technology-based American business into a new era of global competitiveness.”

In addressing the graduates Fisher said in part, “… I might refer to Albert Einstein as source material… because once upon a time, at an event like this, he did say this: ‘Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.’

“And that really is what bright, well-educated people do. Ideally, they make life simpler for all of us by unraveling mysteries, in the case of science; by solving problems and, hopefully, by easing humanity's burdens.

“… I tell you that making everything simple is also what bright, capable businesspeople do so much of the time.  George Eastman, who was the founder of Eastman Kodak, perhaps said it best in our industry when he says, ‘We must live by “You press the button. We do the rest."’  In so doing, he hid very complex technology and created a company based on ease of use, a principal that many of our high-tech brethren would do well to remember.

“… simplicity really doesn't come easy necessarily.  The grace of a talented ballet dancer looks effortless, looks easy. But we can't, in fact, see the years of training that go behind that flawless performance. Likewise, in our industry, taking a beautiful, sharp photograph hides all the sophistication of the science and that engineering go behind a four-dollar roll of film.

“In fact, in the early years of my career at Bell Labs, as we tried to ascertain what research topics were worth looking on, we developed the notion that we called the ‘natural state of communications.’  People like you and me are enabled with sight, sound, touch – capabilities of our senses, which, in fact, have only been encumbered by the limitations of our technology with things like keyboards, flickering displays and wires. It is, in fact, technology’s intent and purpose to simplify our lives to work more appropriately with our humanness.

“And there is still so much in our lives today, as all of you know, that lacks clarity, simplicity or ease of use.  And there is so work that lies ahead for this graduating class, so much that you can contribute…”

Over six years ago, George M.C. Fisher left Motorola to join Eastman Kodak Company as chairman, president, and CEO at a time of great change both within Kodak and the photographic industry. A highly respected businessman, Fisher brought his strong leadership skills combined with his international business experience to revitalize the company. 

Through his imaginative and resourceful direction, Fisher has placed the photoimaging leader back on track. Some of his notable accomplishments include: increasing Kodak’s international market share and visibility, most notably negotiating Kodak as the dominant photoimaging supplier for China; streamlining the company to focus on its core business – the imaging industry; and leading Kodak’s entry and continued growth in the burgeoning digital imaging market.

Starting his career with Motorola in 1976, Fisher was appointed senior vice president and assistant general manager of the Motorola Communications Sector in 1984. He became president and chief executive officer in 1988, and was named chairman of the board and chief executive officer in 1990.  Prior to Motorola, Fisher spent ten years in research and development at Bell Telephone Laboratories.

Fisher serves on numerous boards and organizations, and is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering. Formerly, Fisher acted as chairman of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness from 1991 to 1993 and held the position of chair of the U.S.-China Business Council from 1997 to 1999.

Fisher received a B.S. in engineering from the University of Illinois, and both an M.S. in engineering and a Ph.D. in applied mathematics from Brown University.  Fisher, who has headed the world’s largest photographic products company since 1993, will continue as chairman until January 2001.
Clarkson University is an independent institution located in northern New York, in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. The University has 2,902 graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in its schools of Business, Engineering, Liberal Arts and Science.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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