Susan M. Cameron, a Bellarmine University graduate who was one of the nation's first women to serve as CEO of a major corporation, will speak at the university's commencement on May 12
. The 65th annual commencement ceremony takes place on Owsley Brown Frazier Stadium's Joseph P. and Janet A. Clayton Field beginning at 9 a.m.
Cameron, who earned an MBA from Bellarmine in 1987, will also receive an honorary doctoral degree during the ceremony, which will be broadcast live on the university’s website
and Facebook page
. Bellarmine expects to award approximately 628 undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Susan M. Cameron
Cameron was president and CEO of Reynolds American from 2004 until her retirement in 2011. She rejoined Reynolds as a board member in 2013 and returned for a second term as president and CEO from 2014 to 2016, then served as non-executive chair in 2017.
From 2001 to 2004, she was president and CEO of Brown & Williamson, a company she joined in 1981 as a sales representative.
Fortune magazine named Cameron one of the top 50 businesspeople of the year in 2016, and she was responsible for the largest-ever acquisition by a CEO - the $27.4 billion purchase of Reynolds' competitor, Lorillard, in 2014. Reynolds' stock rose 627 percent during the years she held leadership roles there.
Cameron now works to help other women achieve their potential in business. She has been active in a number of women’s leadership initiatives and served on the boards of a number of philanthropic organizations, including the Women's Leadership Initiative for the United Way of America. She serves as a non-executive director on the board of Tupperware Brands Corp.
At Bellarmine, she established the Susan M. Cameron Endowed Scholarship Fund in 2011 to provide financial assistance to female students entering their sophomore year. She has served as a Bellarmine Trustee, was named alumna of the year in 2012 and was one of the 11 inaugural members of Bellarmine’s T. William Samuels Jr. Kentucky Business Legends Hall of Fame last month.
She completed Bellarmine's executive MBA program while working at Brown & Williamson. “The students, the professors and the curriculum provided an excellent experience and helped me fulfill my dream of moving from sales to consumer marketing,” she said. “Without my MBA, that would not have been possible.”
Cameron earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Florida.