Search the UM-Dearborn site UM-Dearborn Site Map UM-Dearborn Admissions UM-Dearborn Home
  CONTACT: Jennifer Sroka
PHONE: (313) 593-5644
DATE: Dec. 5, 2003

Auto executive and research leader will speak at ceremonies

DEARBORN---Chris Theodore, vice president of advanced product creation at Ford Motor Company, and David Featherman, director of the Institute for Social Research at U-M Ann Arbor, will give commencement speeches at the University of Michigan-Dearborn on Sunday, Dec. 21.

Theodore will speak at a morning ceremony for graduates of the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the School of Management, and Featherman will speak at an afternoon ceremony for graduates of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters and the School of Education.


Theodore's responsibilities include creating a strategic design vision for Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products and brands; developing new products and features; bringing together technology, marketing and trends with concepts and show vehicles; and facilitating a stable cycle plan and platform selections.

Theodore also leads the Ford Performance Group, including the "Special Vehicle Team," and Ford Motor Company's advanced product activities throughout North America.

Previously, Theodore was vice president of Ford North America product development. He has a 30-year career in the automotive industry, which began at Ford where he was a college intern and an engineer in the heavy truck group.

He left Ford in 1974 to join General Motors as a research engineer in the Detroit Diesel Division. He was director of engine engineering at American Motors Corp. from 1985 to 1989. When AMC was acquired by Chrysler Corp., Theodore was named powertrain executive of the minivan platform team.

At Chrysler Corp., he became the general manager for the development of the second-generation Chrysler minivan and then general manager in charge of the Neon and PT Cruiser. When he left DaimlerChrysler in 1999, he was senior vice president of platform engineering and was credited with creating and maximizing the efficiencies of the platform team organization in product development.

Theodore returned to Ford as vice president of Ford North America car in 1999, where he worked to re-energize the car market with the introduction of the legendary Thunderbird. In addition, Theodore oversaw ongoing product development of the Ford Taurus, Crown Victoria, Windstar, Focus and Mustang.

Theodore earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan in 1972, a master's degree in mechanical engineering at UM-Dearborn in 1975 and an MBA from Michigan State University in 1989.


Featherman, professor of sociology and psychology in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, was appointed director of the Institute for Social Research in June 1995. Previously, he served as president of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) in New York City for six years.

Featherman began his academic career in the Department of Sociology and Office of Population Research at Princeton University from 1969 to 1970 and for 21 years was on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he chaired several departments and institutes and held the John Bascom Professorship in sociology.

Featherman received his master's and doctoral degrees in sociology and social psychology from the University of Michigan. His research spans the fields of demography, social psychology, human development and gerontology. He has written or co-authored six books and dozens of papers about socioeconomic inequality and social mobility in Western industrial nations.

Since the late 1980s, Featherman's publications on the sociology of the life course, aging and life-span human development include five volumes of a co-edited series, Life-Span Development and Behavior. His contributions to the latter field were acknowledged in 1990 with the Distinguished Career of Research award of the American Sociological Association, Section on Aging and the Life Course.

His most recent book, co-edited with Maris Vinovskis, Social Science and Policymaking: A Search for Relevance in the Twentieth Century, was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2001.

Featherman is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a 1978 to 1979 Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and a former Guggenheim Fellow. He serves on various national and international advisory boards and boards of trustees.





Back to current news

News archive 2006-present

News archive 2002-2005




Media inquiries

University Relations home




    Contact UM-Dearborn UM-Dearborn Directory


Search • Site Map • Admissions • Contact Us • UM–Dearborn Directory