Duke awards highest honor to DKU Advisory Board Chair Rick Wagoner | Duke Kunshan University

Duke awards highest honor to DKU Advisory Board Chair Rick Wagoner

September 15, 2021
G. Richard Wagoner Jr.

G. Richard Wagoner Jr. takes part in a team activity with undergraduate students during a meeting of the DKU Advisory Board in 2019
G. Richard Wagoner Jr. takes part in a team activity with undergraduate students during a meeting of the DKU Advisory Board in 2019

By DKU Staff

G. Richard Wagoner Jr., chair of the Duke Kunshan University Advisory Board and former chairman and CEO of General Motors, has been awarded a University Medal, the highest honor presented by Duke University.

Duke will present the honor to Wagoner and two other recipients, MaryAnn Black and Pete Nicholas, during Founders’ Weekend, Sept. 24 to 26, in recognition of their distinguished service.

“The University Medal is reserved for those who make transformational contributions to the Duke community,” said Duke President Vincent E. Price. “It is fitting, then, that we this year recognize MaryAnn Black, Pete Nicholas and Rick Wagoner, whose leadership and vision has improved the lives of countless students, faculty, staff, patients and neighbors, and set Duke on a course to an even more vibrant future. We are so very grateful for their efforts.”

Wagoner had a 32-year career with General Motors, starting in the company’s financial staff in New York City. He advanced through senior leadership positions including chief operating officer and chief financial officer before his election as president and CEO in 2000. He assumed the chairman’s role three years later.

Since retiring from GM in 2009, Wagoner has been active as a board member of public companies including Invesco, where he is board chair, and of startups including Rivian and ChargePoint. He has also advised many early-stage companies in the auto-tech space and served on not-for-profit boards such as the Virginia Commonwealth University Board of Visitors.

Wagoner has chaired Duke Kunshan’s Advisory Board since its founding in 2014 to provide strategic guidance to the China-U.S. joint-venture university. He was a member of the Duke Board of Trustees from 2001 to 2013, serving as chair from 2011 to 2013, and before that, chair of the Duke Fuqua School Board of Visitors.

Wagoner received his undergraduate degree from Duke in 1975 in economics, summa cum laude. He also has an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Fellow medal recipient Pete Nicholas is co-founder and chairman of the board of Boston Scientific Corp., while the University Medal will be awarded posthumously to MaryAnn Black, former associate vice president for community relations for the Duke Health System and a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, who died in 2020.

Read more about the recipients of this year’s University Medals at Duke Today. A complete list of previous recipients is available at Duke Libraries.