WMU News

Former U.S. ambassador speaks at Haworth College

Sept. 19, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- Peter F. Secchia, chairman of Universal Forest Products Inc. and former American ambassador to Italy, will speak at Western Michigan University Monday, Sept. 25, as part of the Haworth College of Business Distinguished Speaker Series.

Beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Brown Auditorium of Schneider Hall, Secchia will discuss "American Foreign Policy and Its Effects Upon Southwestern Michigan."

Secchia's Universal Forest Products produces lumber products for industrial, wholesale and site-built construction as well as for manufactured housing and the do-it-yourself market. After joining the company following his graduation from Michigan State University, Secchia rose through the ranks to become president, chief executive officer and, finally, his current position of chairman. He eventually bought the company, which had been privately held, and took UFP public in 1993.

From 1989 until 1993, Secchia served as the American Ambassador to Italy. In gratitude for his services, the Republic of Italy bestowed on him its Knight of the Great Cross award, the country's highest honor. The U.S. State Department also presented him with its Honor Award, a distinction seldom accorded to non-career ambassadors.

In 1994, Secchia was named Michigan's Master Entrepreneur of the Year. He is active in a variety of business and civic activities and in politics, serving in several leadership roles in the Michigan Republican Party before becoming vice-chairman of the Republican National Committee. Secchia is a director of Old Kent Financial Corp., and a member of the board of directors of the National Italian-American Foundation, which has named its national headquarters in his honor.

The Distinguished Speaker Series, now in its fifth year, brings business, education and government leaders to campus to discuss a variety of topics of interest to the University and Southwest Michigan. Business and community leaders from Southwest Michigan, as well as WMU faculty, staff and students, attend the events. The series is coordinated by Dr. Christopher M. Korth, WMU professor of finance and commercial law.

The lecture is by invitation only and is not open to the public or general campus community.

Media contact: Jessica English, 616 387-8400, jessica.english@wmich.edu

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