The 2017 Commencement Convocation orator is William Pickard, Ph.D.
Dr. Pickard’s 45-year entrepreneurial career began as a McDonald’s franchisee in Detroit. In 1989, he founded an automotive manufacturing company and grew it into Global Automotive Alliance, a group of logistics and manufacturing companies with more than one half billion dollars in sales and eight plants in the U.S. and Canada. GAA services corporations such as Boeing, Mercedes Benz, Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Delphi, Johnson Controls, Starbucks, Home Depot and Merck Pharmaceutical. He focuses on innovative business development, team building and long-term strategic planning in his various enterprises. Dr. Pickard holds a bachelors degree from Western Michigan University, a master’s degree from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. from Ohio State University.
Pickard is Chairman and CEO of Global Automotive Alliance, six manufacturing entities with eight plants in four states and Canada and is on the Board of Directors for numerous other organizations. He is also a member of the Detroit Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Pres. Ronald Reagan nominated and the Senate confirmed William F. Pickard as the first chairman of the African Development Foundation (ADF) in 1982.