Carl H. Lindner College of BusinessCarl H. Lindner College of BusinessUniversity of Cincinnati

Carl H. Lindner College of Business

National Recognition for UC Business Grad

Monday, December 19, 2016 6:28 PM
Mike Ullman’s corporate vision, altruism lead to two national awards.
Myron Mike Ullman

UC graduate Myron "Mike" Ullman III returned as CEO of J.C. Penney in 2013. Ullman has been recently awarded two national awards for his corporate and altruistic leadership.

by Melanie Titanic-Schefft

Two recent national leadership awards have added to an already outstanding career for Myron “Mike” Ullman III, UC alumnus and CEO of J.C. Penney.

Ullman, Bus ’69, HonDoc ’06, received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship in September followed by the John W. Gardner Legacy of Leadership Award in November.

The Wilson honor is extended to corporate citizens who “have shown a deep concern for the common good beyond the bottom line,” while the Gardner honor is reserved for a former White House Fellow who has demonstrated a “lifetime of accomplishment and commitment to service in their public and personal lives.”

UC officials, who have observed Ullman’s success for decades, echo the sentiments of both awards — an accomplished yet humble leader who puts others first.

“Mike’s work and accomplishments represent the best of what our university stands for,” said UC Board of Trustees Chair Tom Humes, Bus ’71, A&S ’77. “His success in both the corporate world and in charitable ventures globally make all of his many UC friends proud to call him a Bearcat.”

For 45 years, Ullman, a resident of Dallas, Texas, has put his UC education to use during a career that has seen him lead five major global enterprises in Hong Kong, the United States and France. Ullman has uniquely served as CEO of five world-class retailers including J.C. Penney, Macy’s, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Duty Free Shops (DFS Group) and Wharf Holdings.

The Carl H. Lindner College of Business graduate recently returned as CEO of J.C. Penney to lead the company after the retailer attempted an unsuccessful strategy to move upmarket. Ullman previously served as CEO from 2004 to 2012.

Ullman started his business career at IBM in 1969 where he became an international account manager. In 1976, he returned to the University of Cincinnati for a five-year stint as vice president of business affairs under former UC president Henry Winkler.

Ullman and wife Cathy, DAAP ’70, have demonstrated a long record of dedication to the university, punctuated by a $10 million donation to UC’s top-ranked College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning and the School of Design in 2007.

“The university is of enormous importance to Cathy and me based on the outstanding educational experience it provided, as well as the friendships we have made through our longtime association with the UC community,” Ullman said in announcing their gift.

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed Ullman as a White House Fellow, one of many lifetime recognitions that also include being named UC’s William Howard Taft Medal winner in 1993, an award given to the university’s outstanding alumnus. In 2002, he received the Carl H. Lindner Medal for Outstanding Business Achievement from the Lindner College of Business, followed by an honorary doctorate in 2006, the same year he served as commencement speaker.

A heart for charity

In addition to leading in a variety of industries such as retailing, luxury goods manufacturing and even the medical arena, Ullman has also spent his career honing his humanitarian skills.

For example, while working in Hong Kong, he started a board of directors and became chairman for Mercy Ships, a fleet of floating hospitals that provide free medical care to patients in coastal cities in developing countries. This experience eventually led Ullman and his wife to adopting two daughters from a Hong Kong orphanage where they volunteered. They also have four biological sons.

Ullman, who has lived with a neuromuscular condition since the 1980s, says his personal experience has helped him focus more on children’s health issues and motivates him to continue working on health and poverty issues. He has been a longtime board member for the Lucille Packard Foundation for Children’s Health as well as former chair of the UCSF Medical Center Executive. In addition, he is a director of the New Hampshire-based charity F.I.R.S.T., which sponsors robotic competitions to motivate high school students to pursue careers in science and technology.

Ullman also currently serves as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and as a director of Starbucks.