GCU Presents Honorary Doctorate to Colleen Barrett
Honorary Doctorate in Business Management
Colleen C. Barrett
President Emeritus, Southwest Airlines
Advisory Board, Ken Blanchard College of Business
Grand Canyon University is pleased to present Colleen C. Barrett with an Honorary Doctorate in Business Management. Ms. Barrett currently is president emeritus of Southwest Airlines, known for its superior customer service. She also serves on the advisory board for the Ken Blanchard College of Business at Grand Canyon University.
Ms. Barrett stepped down as Southwest’s president two years ago. During her 30 years with the company, she oversaw management, leadership and budget responsibilities in many areas. She served as a member of the board of directors (2001-08) and as corporate secretary (1978-2008), vice president for administration (1986-90), executive vice president for customers (1990-2001) and president (2001-08).
A native of Vermont, Ms. Barrett has a son and a grandson and remains active in numerous civic and charitable organizations in Dallas. She serves on the board of directors for JCPenney and is a trustee of Becker College in Worcester, Mass.
“Colleen Barrett is a five-star general of ‘people-driven’ culture,” says advertising executive Roy Spence. “She instinctively understands the whole principle of putting an organization’s people first, both its internal people and its customers.”
Ms. Barrett gives her mother much of the credit for developing her values. “My mother taught me early the importance of the Golden Rule,” she says. “She was a terrific role model. We were poor growing up, but I always marveled at my mother’s warm reception for anyone coming into our home. I don’t know how she did it, but she could always set another place for dinner when I didn’t think there was enough food even for us. She taught me to have a giving heart, because there is always someone more in need than you. That epitomizes what servant leadership is about.”
Her advice for aspiring leaders: Follow the Golden Rule, learn from your mistakes, take the initiative and listen to your heart. Two of her favorite books on leadership are “Be Nice (or Else!)” by Winn Claybaugh and “Good to Great” by Jim Collins.