College of Business & Technology

Robert and Mary Ferguson Lecture Series History

The series was developed through the generosity of the late Dr. Robert Ferguson and his wife, Mary. Dr. Ferguson passed away in December of 1991. His 40-years of commitment to Western Illinois University and the College of Business and Technology live on through the Robert and Mary Ferguson Lecture Series. Dr. Robert Ferguson received his bachelor’s degree in business education from Western in 1943. After serving in the United State Army from 1944-46, Bob returned to Western and completed his master of science degree in 1948. He later taught for two years at Brooklyn College while completing his doctorate at New York University and returned to WIU where he retired in 1986. Bob held faculty ranks from instructor to professor and was business education chair for 20 years. He played a key role in guiding the Department of Business Education through many changes that led to his longtime goal of the establishment of the College of Business in 1966. He served as interim dean of the College of Business prior to the appointment of the late Howard C. Nudd as dean. Throughout his teaching career, Dr. Ferguson firmly believed that our students benefit from the depth and breadth of experience, especially by seeing and hearing from key business leaders who are illustrations of success.

Past Speakers

  • 2024 (spring): Amanda Gore, CEO of the Joy Project, a business woman, an author and award-winning speaker. Keynote Address
  • 2022 (spring): Joe Creed, Group President, Energy and Transportation - Caterpillar, Inc.
  • 2017 (fall): Rob Besecker, author of "Everest Strong: Reaching New Heights with Chronic Illness"
  • 2017 (spring): Alan Bjerga, writer for Bloomberg News and co-host of "Bloomberg Politics, Policy and Power," a public-affairs program on Bloomberg Radio
  • 2015: Tyler Gage, co-founder and co-CEO of Runa
  • 2013: Patrick M. Magoon, President and Chief Executive Officer - Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago
    Improving Child & Adolescent Health in the Healthcare Reform Era
  • 2012: Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation
    Investing in an America Built to Last
  • 2009: Richard Longworth, Author
    Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalization
  • 2005: Troy Rice, Division President Northern - The Home Depot
  • 2003: Glen Barton, Chairman and CEO - Caterpillar, Inc.
  • 2002: Lawrence Gill, Attorney/Certified Public Accountant - Schiff Hardin & Waite
  • 2001: Mary Lou Quinlan, Founder - Just Ask A Woman
  • 2000: Richard E. Rominger, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture - United States Department of Agriculture
  • 1999: Michael J. Litwin, Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer - Heller Financial, Inc.
  • 1998: Edward J. McManus, Chief Operating Officer of Procurement and Logistics - American Stores Company
  • 1997: Robert L. Nardelli, President and Chief Executive Officer - GE Power Systems
  • 1996: Emma Chappell, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer - The United Bank of Philadelphia
  • 1995: Joe Cowans, Information Consultant - TCI
  • 1995: Lynn Martin, Labor Secretary - Bush Administration
  • 1994: William Weiss, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer - Ameritech
  • 1993: John W. Bachmann, Managing Principal - Edward Jones & Company
  • 1992: Howard Putnam, Chief Executive Officer - Southwest Airlines
  • 1991: William Alexander Hewitt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer - Deere and Company
  • 1990: James C. Miller III, Director of Budget and Cabinet Member - Reagan Administration