2014 Distinguished Alumni Awards

The outstanding accomplishments of Western Illinois University graduate Richard P. Lavin, president and chief executive officer of the Commercial Vehicle Group (CVG) Inc., New Albany, OH, were recognized Saturday, May 10 at the Spring 2014 Commencement exercises.

The Distinguished Alumni Award, given since 1973, recognizes alumni who have reached the pinnacle of their careers and have brought credit to the University and themselves through their professional accomplishments or community service at local, state or national levels and have extended meritorious service for the advancement and continued excellence of WIU.

2014 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient's Speech

The video below features the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, addressing the Class of 2014 at Western Hall on Saturday, May 10.


Lavin, a 1976 sociology graduate, was appointed to his post at Commercial Vehicle Group in May 2013, following a successful 28-year career with Caterpillar. In addition to serving as president and CEO at CVG, which makes cab products and systems for commercial trucks and heavy-duty vehicles and machines, Lavin is a member of the company's Board of Directors.

Richard LavinDuring his career at Caterpillar, Lavin served as the group president of construction industries and growth markets, with responsibility for Caterpillar's earthmoving, excavation and building construction products divisions and the deployment of business strategies in China, India and elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region. He also had development and deployment responsibility for the company's business in Japan and for construction machinery manufacturing operations in Asia, the Americas and Europe.

In addition, Lavin served as vice president of Caterpillar Inc. and served as its vice president of operations for the Asia Pacific Division. He led the Caterpillar's people initiatives with administrative responsibility for the human services division. Lavin served as product manager, track-type tractors division, and served as its director of corporate human and labor relations in Caterpillar and as director of compensation and benefits. He also served as chair of Shin Caterpillar Mitsubishi Ltd. and had administrative responsibility for operations in the region, including manufacturing facilities in China, India, Indonesia and Japan. Lavin joined Caterpillar Inc. in 1984 as an attorney in the legal department.

Lavin also served as a director of the U.S.-China Business Council, the U.S.-India Business Council and the U.S.-Korea Business Council, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and the International Advisory Council of Guanghua School of Management at Peking University.

Over the years, he has been very supportive of WIU, attending and hosting events, including an event for Caterpillar employees who are WIU alumni. While in China working for Caterpillar, Lavin met with WIU students who were studying through the Caterpillar Foundation Scholarship. Lavin is a member of the Bradley University Boards of Trustees.

Lavin completed a Brookings Institute program and, in addition to his degree from WIU, holds a Juris Doctor degree from Creighton University and a Master of Laws degree from Georgetown University.


View Past Recipients