Service to their Community

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

By Kevin Moe


Two individuals with strong ties to the Carlson School received the highest award conferred by the University of Minnesota last fall—an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree. The honor was bestowed on former Norwest Bank Minnesota/Wells Fargo executive and interim Carlson School codean James R. Campbell and Carlson Chairman Marilyn Carlson Nelson in separate ceremonies in September and October, respectively.

James R. Campbell

Campbell, a business leader, volunteer, and philanthropist,earned a degree in business administration from the University in 1964 and had a long career in banking. He was named president and CEO of Norwest Bank Minnesota in 1988, and later served as group executive vice president following the firm’s 1998 merger with Wells Fargo. He retired in 2002.

Most recently, he was chairman of the Itasca Project, an employer-led alliance that addresses issues affecting the region’s economic competitiveness and quality of life. In addition to his work as a Carlson School codean, he served as a chair and member of the Carlson School’s Board of Overseers, as chairman of the University of Minnesota Foundation Board of Directors, and as a director and trustee for many community organizations.

He is a recipient of the Outstanding Achievement and Regents’ Awards from the University of Minnesota, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP, and the 2003 “Executive of the Year” award from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, as well as many other honors.

“Jim has been and continues to be one of the most generous and enthusiastic benefactors in the business school’s history—we recognize him as a true champion of the Carlson School’s vision,” says Carlson School Dean Alison Davis-Blake. “He is one of those extraordinary people who is helping us make this vision a reality.”

Marilyn Carlson Nelson

One of those who nominated Marilyn Carlson Nelson for the Honorary Doctor of Laws degree was Campbell. In his nomination letter, he noted, “Marilyn is deeply committed to her family, her employees, her customers, and her community. She is equally at home mentoring young women studying business and working on global issues with heads of state. She gets noticed when she enters a room, and leaves people with a greater sense of purpose and hope for the future upon making her exit.”

Carlson Nelson is chairman and former CEO of Carlson, one of the world’s largest privately held companies. She has been named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report, and Forbes has selected her as one of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.”

She cochaired the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in 2004 and has received prestigious awards from the governments of France, Sweden, and Finland. She serves on the boards of Exxon Mobil, the Committee Encouraging Philanthropy, the Foreign Policy Association, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She also served as chair of the National Women’s Business Council, a bipartisan advisory council to the President and Congress, and is currently chair of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board.

Carlson Nelson has served on the Carlson School’s Board of Overseers and the University of Minnesota Foundation’s Board of Trustees since 1999; is a frequent guest lecturer, panelist, and keynote speaker; and was an important force in establishing the University’s Center for Integrative Leadership.

“Marilyn Carlson Nelson’s public service extends beyond her leadership in business and beyond her family’s ongoing involvement with the Carlson School of Management,” Davis-Blake says. “She has demonstrated to the global community how women can be tough, effective corporate executives, as well as committed, charismatic, and compassionate champions for human rights and social justice.”