Texas Tech Alum Becomes Permanent CEO of General Motors

Ed Whitacre Jr., a 1964 Texas Tech graduate, will take the company’s top leadership role permanently.

Whitacre was instrumental in securing some of the largest gifts to the university, including contributions from the SBC Foundation to create endowed scholarships and endowed faculty positions at the university.

Ed Whitacre Jr., a 1964 Texas Tech graduate, has dropped the interim from his chief executive title at General Motors Co. Whitacre will now take the company’s top leadership role permanently. General Motors made the announcement Jan. 25.

Whitacre, the former CEO of AT&T, took the position at GM on an interim basis late last year. The native of Ennis graduated from Texas Tech with a degree in industrial engineering.

In 1989, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the university and in 1985, a distinguished engineer of the College of Engineering. He was appointed to the Board of Regents in 1993, and was chairman from 1995-1998. In 1996, the Rawls College of Business honored him with the Outstanding Chief Executive Award.

Whitacre was instrumental in securing some of the largest gifts to the university, including contributions from the SBC Foundation to create endowed scholarships and endowed faculty positions at the university. He served as national campaign chairman for Texas Tech’s Horizon Fundraising Campaign from 1996 to 2001. In 2008, after receiving a $25 million gift from AT&T and friends of the company, Texas Tech named its engineering college the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering.

He began his career in telecommunications in 1963 when he took at job at Southwestern Bell Telephone in Lubbock. He progressed through a series of assignments in the company’s operational departments in Texas, Arkansas and Kansas.

From 1982 to 1985, Whitacre headed Southwestern Bell’s Kansas Division, and then moved to corporate headquarters where he served as group president, vice president-revenues and public affairs, and vice chairman and chief financial officer. In October 1988, Whitacre was made president and chief operating officer, responsible for the company’s six primary subsidiaries. In 1990, he became chairman and CEO of SBC, which changed its name to AT&T in 2005 after SBC acquired AT&T Corp.

During Whitacre’s 1990-2007 tenure as chairman and chief executive officer, the company differentiated itself through diversification, a disciplined growth strategy and strategic mergers and acquisitions.