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Samuel Ginn, a native of Anniston, Alabama, is a 1959 graduate of Auburn University's College of Engineering, and was awarded the institution's honorary doctorate in 1998. He was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 1992. Ginn also served on the university's board of trustees from 2005-2013.
Ginn has more than four decades of experience in the telecommunications industry. Following his service with the Army Signal Corps, he built a 27 year career with AT&T beginning as a student engineer in 1960. He rose through the ranks in management and operations, and in 1977 was appointed vice president of network operations for AT&T Long Lines.
After the Bell Systems breakup, Ginn joined Pacific Telephone in 1978 as vice president–Los Angeles, going on to serve as chairman and CEO of Pacific Telesis from 1988 until 1994. When he resigned, Ginn launched AirTouch, an early pioneer in the cellular industry that went public in 1994 with an IPO of $10 billion.
In 1999, the company was sold for $65 billion to Vodafone where Ginn assumed the position of chairman in the United Kingdom. During his tenure, Vodafone merged with Verizon to create Verizon Wireless, the largest wireless telecommunications network in the U.S. Ginn retired from Vodafone in 2000. Today, Vodafone retains a 45 percent ownership of Verizon Wireless.
Ginn serves on the boards of the Franklin Templeton Fund and ICO Global Communications. His past corporate board memberships have included CH2M Hill, First Interstate Bank, Pacific Telesis Group, Safeway, Transamerica Corporation, Vodafone, AirTouch Communications, Chevron Corporation, Hewlett-Packard and the Fremont Group. He has also served as chairman of the California Business-Higher Education Forum, the California Business Roundtable and the Committee on Jobs, and is an overseer at the Hoover Institute in Palo Alto, as well as a Sloan fellow at Stanford University's School of Business.
An investor and advisor to several start-up companies in telecommunications, Ginn is the namesake for the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University. He has served as the impetus behind the wireless engineering degree program at Auburn and continues his involvement with the institution through its wireless advisory board. As part of its philanthropic activities, the Ginn Family Foundation supports merit scholarships within the college. Married to Ann Vance Ginn, they have three children and six grandchildren.