Former Ford VP named executive-in-residence at UM-Dearborn School of Management

May 26, 2006


DEARBORN / May 26, 2006---Jim Vella, former vice president and chief of staff to Ford Motor Co. CEO Bill Ford, has joined the University of Michigan-Dearborn in his new assignment as a Ford visiting professor.

In his new role, Vella will advise Chancellor Daniel Little and other senior leaders of the University and serve in an academic role connecting students to the realities of today's business community.

As part of this assignment, Vella has been appointed as Executive-in-Residence for the School of Management and will work with the faculty and the dean to provide an outside perspective as well as working with students in the classroom to share his experiences both from his corporate experiences and his fourteen years in broadcast journalism.

“Jim brings wealth of experience and offers our students the ability to tap into the business world in a very unique way,” according to Bruce Bublitz, Dean of the UM-Dearborn School of Management. "Our faculty, students, and staff are looking forward to this tremendous opportunity to work with Mr. Vella and learn from his experiences at the highest levels of American corporate life."

Vella served as vice president and chief of staff at Ford until December 2005, when he was named a “Ford visiting professor,” a company program to place executives in positions where they can serve higher education.

As chief of staff, Vella managed the activities of the Ford chairman's office, ensuring alignment between the chairman’s office and the operations of the business, and assisting the chairman with maintaining consistency in managing external developments affecting the company's business. He continues to work on special assignments at Ford and is currently Chairman of the Ford Motor Company Fund and serving as interim director of the Company's Volunteer Corps.

Before being named chief of staff in 2003, Vella had been the company’s vice president for public affairs, where he was responsible for global public affairs, including financial and corporate news, internal employee communications and media relations. Previously, he had been executive director of Ford’s corporate communications.

Vella joined Ford in 1988 as a producer for the Ford Communications Network. A native of Detroit, he previously worked in television news in Detroit, San Diego, and Columbus, Ohio.

When Vella stepped down as chief of staff last year, Ford CEO Bill Ford said: "I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for the job Jim Vella has done for me and for the company. He has proven to be an able and loyal counselor. I wish him the best in this new position, and I look forward to continuing our relationship."

Vella earned his bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Detroit-Mercy. He serves on the board of directors for the Automotive Hall of Fame, Detroit Public Television, and the Henry Ford Heart and Vascular Institute.

UM-Dearborn’s executive-in-residence program extends the School of Management’s partnership with the business community by allowing senior executives to share their expertise and help faculty, students and administrators with programs and courses. They also serve as project advisors, student mentors and ambassadors for the college.

“Their generous contributions of time and wisdom have allowed us to expand our offerings, improve the quality of our curriculum and continue to build our valued relationships with business, not-for-profit, and governmental leaders in metropolitan Detroit,” Bublitz said.


High resolution photo of Jim Vella 


CONTACT: Terry Gallagher
PHONE: (313) 593-5518
The Office of University Relations
Room 1040, Administration Building
University of Michigan-Dearborn