Founders Day Event Celebrates Redbird Achievements

 Craig Bouchard, recipient of an honorary doctoral degree, speaks at the Founder's Day Convocation Thursday afternoon at Illinois State University. (Image Credit: Breanna Grow)

Craig Bouchard, recipient of an honorary doctoral degree, speaks at the Founder's Day Convocation Thursday afternoon at Illinois State University. (Image Credit: Breanna Grow)

Illinois State University faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters gathered in the Brown Ballroom Thursday afternoon for the 2018 Founders Day Convocation, a formal celebration of the University’s founding in 1857.

The event also serves as a chance to recognize the accomplishments of individual members of the Redbird community whom University President Larry Dietz called “terrific people--inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs and educators.”

Dietz presented the university’s highest award, an honorary doctoral degree, to Craig Bouchard, Chairman and CEO of Braidy Industries, Inc.

Braidy Industries is currently building a $1.3 billion aluminum production mill that will create 600 jobs in Eastern Kentucky.

Bouchard, the founder of three multi-billion dollar companies, had this message for ISU students: “If I can make it, anybody can make it.”  

“I sat in classrooms right across the street,” he said. “I looked around, first at the teacher saying, ‘I’ll never be as smart as them,’ then at the classroom, saying, ‘I’m the dumbest guy in this room.’” He went on to earn both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from ISU.

Bouchard said while he never got very good grades in elementary school and high school, his time at ISU made earning an MBA from the University of Chicago seem “like a cakewalk...simply because I listened to my professors here.”

Bouchard is also a New York Times best-selling author and wrote one of the world’s most popular children’s book programs benefiting 18 children’s charities around the globe.

Whether it’s wealth of money, character, culture or knowledge they’re after, Bouchard told students it’s theirs for the taking.

“It’s your opportunity. You all have it, and it’s a special gift you’ve been given to be able to come here to seek it.”

For more information about Founders Day and award recipients, visit the University’s news page.