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DATE: March 30, 2005

Chrysler exec, labor leader to speak at UM-Dearborn commencement ceremonies May 1

DEARBORN---Chrysler executive vice president for product development Eric Ridenour and Mark Gaffney, president of the Michigan State AFL-CIO, will be the featured speakers at commencement ceremonies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn on May 1.

Ridenour will speak in the morning ceremony, which begins at 10:30 a.m., for graduates of the campus's School of Management and College of Engineering and Computer Science. Gaffney will speak in the afternoon ceremony, which begins at 2:30 p.m., for graduates of the School of Education and College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters. Both ceremonies will be held in the Fieldhouse on the UM-Dearborn campus.

"These speakers represent two of the great enterprises that have made southeastern Michigan so prosperous over the decades, and their leadership will be instrumental in continuing our region's success in the future," according to UM-Dearborn Chancellor Daniel Little. "Our graduates have always reflected the same commitment to the social and economic development of the metropolitan area, and these speakers provide an excellent example and model for all of us."


Ridenour, a Detroit native who received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from UM-Dearborn in 1980, has been responsible for all Chrysler passenger car, sport utility vehicle and truck product teams since assuming his current position early in 2003. A member of the Chrysler executive committee, Ridenour also leads Chrysler's advanced engineering, powertrain and product strategy teams.

After receiving his bachelor's degree, Ridenour worked in engineering at General Motors and went on to earn an MBA from the Michigan Business School in 1986. He joined Chrysler that year and has risen through the ranks as senior program planner, vice president for product planning and vice president of the premium vehicle product team.


Gaffney was elected president of the Michigan State AFL-CIO in 1999, after working in various leadership positions for the Teamsters Joint Council in Detroit. The labor federation represents almost 700,000 workers in 50 affiliated unions. Gaffney earned a bachelor's degree from Michigan State University in 1982 and a master's degree in labor and industrial relations from MSU in 1984.

He has been a leader in developing greater levels of cooperation and collaboration among labor and management groups across the state and is involved in efforts to raise national public awareness of the positive state of labor relations in Michigan. He also serves on the board of a number of civic groups and public agencies, including the United Way of Michigan, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan, and the Federal Reserve Bank, Chicago Region.


The University of Michigan-Dearborn does not necessarily endorse speakers’ views.



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