May 9, 2014

GSU Honors Toyota Executive with Honorary Degree

In his tenure at Grambling State University, Pogue has awarded only two other doctorates; this will be his third, and final honorary GSU degree

Jim Colon, vice president of African American business strategy, North America for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. is scheduled to receive an honorary doctor of laws from GSU President Frank G. Pogue at Friday’s commencement.
Jim Colon, vice president of African American business strategy,
North America for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
is scheduled to receive an honorary doctor of laws from
GSU President Frank G. Pogue at Friday’s commencement.

By JESSICA WRIGHT
Grambling State University Media Bureau

Jim Colon had never visited Grambling State University until Thursday. Today he’s getting an honorary doctorate from GSU.

During a whirlwind day, Colon met a host of university officials but he spent the most time with students. During a casual conversation in the Favrot Student Union, Colon thanked everyone for such a warm welcome, and “for making me feel like GramFam in such a short time.”

Jim Colon, vice president of African American business strategy, North America for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. is scheduled to receive an honorary doctor of laws from GSU President Frank G. Pogue at Friday’s commencement. The free event starts at 10 a.m. at the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center on campus.

Colon has been an accomplished business leader and an advocate for African American participation in the automobile industry for 34 years. He is responsible for engaging Hispanic and African American business and media communities, as well as building a network of Toyota Associates and team members across regions to optimize relationships with important external Hispanic and African American groups. This is not the first honorary degree Colon has been awarded, in May of 2011 he received an honorary degree of Humane Letters from Martin University in Indianapolis.

“I’m not one to bestow honorary degrees lightly,” said Pogue. “In my time at GSU, I’ve awarded only two. I’m proud to recognize Jim for his contributions." The president said he chose to honor Colon with an honorary degree because “he’s a man of character and commitment, someone who hasn’t forgotten where he’s come from, and someone who regularly works to find ways to help others, especially African Americans.”

Including Colon, Grambling State has awarded 29 honorary degrees. Muriel Howard, president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), was awarded a doctor of humane letters in May 2010 and Donna Brazile, a Democratic political strategist and television political commentator, was awarded a doctor of laws in May 2012.

During the chat with students, Colon took time to talk about how best to advance at a time when some people of color may not be wanted in some work places. “As an applicant to any company you must figure out how you can add value to the company,” he told the students.  

Colon stressed that it is important to look for things the company needs and find ways to help the company maximize those opportunities. In addition, he said he thinks those with entrepreneurial desires and skills will do well. Not everyone has to work for the big company, he said. Some can create their own businesses to serve the big company. “There are so many opportunities for persons with a keen eye to see what a company needs and make a pretty good living for themselves,” he said.

In the fall of 2012, Colon agreed to serve on the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, Manchester University in North Manchester, Indiana. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia.

A native of Gary, Indiana, Colon resides in Palos Verdes, Calif. with his wife, Ladora, and two sons, Tyler, 18, and Miles, 17.  When he can find time for leisure, he enjoys being on the golf course. The family plans to relocate to Plano, Texas, due to Toyota’s recent decision to move its headquarters and about 3,000 employees.

VP of African American business strategy for Toyota North America, Jim Colon, addresses the GSU family at a special event, before being awarded an honorary degree.
VP of African American business strategy for Toyota North America, Jim Colon, addresses the GSU family at a special event, before being awarded an honorary degree at the spring commencement exercises.

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318-533-5337
mediarelations@gram.edu

 

 

 

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