A Scott County, Tenn., native, Stonecipher graduated from TTU in 1960 with a degree in physics. He chaired the university’s first major capital campaign in the early 1990s, and by 1997 his leadership helped raise more than $23 million for the campus.
“He kind of credits Tennessee Tech for giving him his critical thinking processes,” said Paul Isbell, TTU vice president of university advancement.
Stonecipher retired from Boeing in 2002 after working closely with Condit for five years in several roles, including vice chairman, president and chief operating officer. Stonecipher also has served as a Boeing director for six years.
In honor of his retirement last fall, Boeing donated $1 million to TTU. After retirement, he also took a more active role at his alma mater, chairing the campus’ first Foundation Board of Directors last year.
Isbell credits Stonecipher with direct gifts of around $5 million to the university, including Boeing’s most recent contribution and those of previous companies in which Stonecipher held leadership positions. He was nominated by TTU and received was the first Tennessee Board of Regents’ Award for Excellence in Philanthropy in December 2002.
He and his wife, Joan, also founded the Harry and Joan Stonecipher Lectures on Science and Society, as well as the Stonecipher Symposium on Technology, Communication and Culture at TTU. These programs bring nationally recognized speakers to campus to work with students and faculty in a variety of academic disciplines. In the recent past those campus visitors have included former Vice President Al Gore and former Senator Howard Baker.
Isbell said his latest conversation with Stonecipher, only a few days ago, held no clue to the impending changes at Boeing. Condit resigned unexpectedly after the company fired other Boeing officials for an alleged ethics breach.
“I’m sure he is looking forward to the challenge of leading the company,” said Isbell.
Stonecipher’s aerospace career spans more than 47 years from his start at General Motors’ as a lab technician to being elected vice chairman of Boeing in 2001. In 1960, he joined General Electric’s aircraft engine operations, and progressed through a series of engineering and program positions, ending up running the division from 1984 to 1987.
In 1987, Stonecipher left GE to join Sundstrand and shortly thereafter became president and chief operating officer. He became president and CEO in 1989. During his seven and a half years at Sundstrand, Stonecipher repaired the company’s seriously damaged customer relationship with the U.S. Department of Defense.Stonecipher joined McDonnell Douglas in 1994 as president and CEO. In his short 33 months at the aerospace company he increased the financial performance of the enterprise, saw a four-fold increase in the share price, and led the merger with Boeing in 1997. At completion of the merger, Stonecipher was elected president and chief operating officer and a member of Boeing’s board.