Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne will be at Indiana University Kokomo’s May 13 commencement to accept an honorary degree from Indiana University President Michael McRobbie, IUK officials announced.
In a statement, McRobbie credited Marchionne with engineering “one of the most dramatic rescue-and-recovery efforts in the history of the American auto industry."
"Thanks to his strong leadership, experience and entrepreneurial spirit, Chrysler Group has enjoyed a remarkable renaissance over the last several years, and the company has re-emerged as a leading player in the global marketplace.”
Marchionne was directly involved in decisions to retool operations at Kokomo’s four Chrysler plants to accommodate the carmaker’s next generation of powertrains, resulting in about $1.5 billion worth of investment.
From the bottom of the former Chrysler’s bankruptcy in 2009, the new Marchionne-led Chrysler Group LLC has returned the area plants to near peak pre-recession employment levels, and has taken the further step of purchasing vacant manufacturing space in Tipton to bring a fifth plant to the area.
Since the 2009 low point, a resurgent Chrysler has added about 2,600 jobs in the north central area.
In February, Brian Harlow, chief of global powertrain manufacturing for Chrysler Group LLC, who also happens to be a Tipton County native and resident, was delivering an update on Chrysler’s newest plant to a Tipton County Chamber of Commerce gathering.
“We have an extraordinary leader in Sergio Marchionne,” Harlow said. “I’ve never dealt with anyone in the business world like him … he is the main player. He is the reason we exist.”
Local officials have also praised Marchionne's leadership.
"I think Marchionne and Chrysler have put together a plan, they've implemented the plan, and it has been successful," Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said. "The people I talk to who work there, including [union] members, have bought into the business model they've created, and so far, so good."