ATLANTA— At the 240th Commencement celebration at Georgia Tech, Ray Anderson, founder and chairman of Interface, Inc., was awarded an honorary doctorate for his work to secure a greener world for future generations and his championing of the business case for sustainability.
Anderson, a 1956 alumnus who was described at the ceremony as “the greenest chief executive in America,” joins the prestigious ranks of past honorary doctorate degree recipients such as former president and Nobel Prize winner Jimmy Carter, astronaut John Young, civil rights leader Ivan Allen Jr., micro-chip inventor Jack Kilby, and former U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole.
Due to illness, Anderson was unable to attend the proceedings but was represented by Mary Anne Lanier from The Interface Environmental Foundation, who read from Anderson’s acceptance remarks: “To be acknowledged with this award from my alma mater is a special honor. I hope that in accepting this we place another spotlight on our company’s efforts to eliminate negative impact on the environment. We refer to this as Mission Zero. And we hope it inspires the future business leaders in the audience of 900 graduates to carry this message with them into the companies they will work for tomorrow and well into the future.”
Among other prior awards, Anderson received the inaugural Millennium Award from Global Green and won recognition from Forbes magazine and Ernst & Young, which named him Entrepreneur of the Year in 1996. He also has been honored by Southface Energy Institute, SAM-SPG (Switzerland), the U.S. Green Building Council, the National Wildlife Federation, the Design Futures Council, the Children’s Health and Environmental Coalition, Harvard Business School Alumni (Atlanta Chapter), the International Interior Design Association, the Southern Institute for Business & Professional Ethics, the Possible Woman Foundation International, the World Business Academy and the Council of Scientific Society Presidents. He holds 11 honorary doctorates.
A 1956 industrial engineering graduate of Georgia Tech, Anderson has been a devoted supporter of his alma mater for more than five decades. In partnership with Interface, Anderson established the Anderson-Interface Chair in Natural Systems at Georgia Tech. The current chair holder, Associate Professor Valerie Thomas, conducts research in sustainability. Anderson is a College of Engineering Distinguished Alumnus, a recipient of the Dean Griffin Community Service Award and a member of the College of Engineering Hall of Fame and the Industrial and Systems Engineering Hall of Fame.