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The University Magazine

Xerox executive Ursula Burns to speak at commencement

Ursula Burns

Ursula Burns, president of Xerox Corp., will be the keynote presenter for RIT's 124th Commencement. Burns will deliver her address during Academic Convocation, which takes place at 4 p.m. Friday, May 22, in Gordon Field House and Activities Center.

Burns, who is also a member of the Xerox Board of Directors, is responsible for global research, development, engineering, marketing and manufacturing of Xerox technology, supplies and related services. She also oversees global accounts, information management, corporate strategy, human resources and ethics and marketing operations.

Burns joined Xerox in 1980 as a mechanical engineering summer intern, leading to several positions over the years in engineering including product development and planning. In 1991, she became the executive assistant to Paul Allaire, then Xerox chairman and CEO.

From 1992 to 2000, Burns led several business teams including the office color and fax business, office network copying business, and the departmental business unit. In 2000, she was named senior vice president for corporate strategic services, and two years later assumed the role of president of business group operations.

She serves on boards of numerous organizations including American Express Corp., Boston Scientific Corp., CASA - The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), National Academy Foundation, MIT and the University of Rochester.

"RIT is extremely pleased to have Ursula Burns as our 2009 Commencement speaker," says RIT President Bill Destler. "She is recognized as one of the most influential figures in the global business world. She is the perfect role model for our students. They will learn that with hard work and perseverance, you can start out as a summer intern and ascend to be a corporate president. She will deliver an exciting message on May 22."

Burns earned a bachelor's degree from Polytechnic Institute of New York and a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University.

Paul Stella '03

For more information about commencement activities, visit