Dr. Paul O’Neill, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Alcoa, received a bachelor’s degree in economics from then Fresno State College in 1960.
In 1991, O’Neill received the university’s Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Fresno State Alumni Association.
An honorary doctoral degree — a doctor of humane letters — was conferred by the California State University and Fresno State on Mr. O’Neill during the university’s 88th Commencement ceremonies on May 22, 1999, in Bulldog Stadium.
O’Neill was elected chairman and chief executive officer of Alcoa April 20, 1987. Before being elected to his present position, he served as an Alcoa director.
Dubbed by the Associated Press as a “corporate chieftain,” Paul O’Neill has shared his career work with community and business organizations, where he has been a director, trustee or board member of more than a dozen organizations and foundations.
Although he holds Alcoa’s top position, he recently gave up his plush mahogany office — replete with seven armchairs, massive desk and private bathroom — for a cubicle with his staff. O’Neill enjoys “bumping” into his employees and working together in an informal setting.
O’Neill has served on the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was a director of the Council for Excellence and the Gerald Ford Foundation. He was a founding member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and a trustee for the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment.
Some of O’Neill’s industry highlights include serving as director for Eastman Kodak Company, the Institute for International Economics, Lucent Technologies, the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation and the International Primary Aluminum Institute.
Mr. O’Neill began his career as an engineer for Morrison-Knudsen, Inc. in Anchorage, Alaska. He worked as a computer systems analyst with the U.S. Veterans Administration from 1961 to 1966 and served on the staff of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget from 1967 to 1977. He was deputy director of the OMB from 1974 to 1977.
Other honorary doctorates awarded by the CSU and Fresno State include Sid Craig, Dr. Lee Brown, Dr. Vincent Petrucci, Earl Smittcamp, Robert Duncan, Edward James Olmos, Elmer “Bud” Richter, Hugo Morales and Coke and James Hallowell.