Kingsley to receive honorary doctorate at today's graduation ceremonies

Published: Dec 18, 2009 9:52:00 AM
Media Contact: Sara Borchik, 334-844-3591,

Oliver D. Kingsley, Jr., Auburn University's first member of the National Academy of Engineering and a member of the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame, will receive an honorary doctorate at Auburn University's graduation ceremonies later today. Kingsley revolutionized the operation of U.S. nuclear power plants and has received every major U.S. and international award available to professionals in the civilian field of nuclear energy.

"I have been blessed to receive numerous awards over the course of my professional career, but this is possibly the most significant," Kingsley said. "I hope that I can continue to help the college become one of the top engineering programs in the nation."

Kingsley has been resolutely focused to the goals of Auburn University and the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. He serves the college in a non-compensated position as the associate dean for special projects, with one of his major goals being to attract other members of the National Academy of Engineering to the Auburn faculty, in accordance with the university's strategic goals. A member of the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council, he chairs the college's "It Begins at Auburn" Campaign Leadership Team, and it was a gift by Kingsley and his wife Sally that put the college over its goal of $105 million. By campaign end, the college raised $116.7 million. In 2009, Oliver was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Auburn's Alumni Association.

An Auburn alumnus and native of Ozark, Ala., Kingsley graduated with honors in 1966 with a bachelor's degree in engineering physics. He began his career with five years of service with the U.S. Navy Nuclear Submarine Force, and joined Southern Company in 1971, where he held various positions in the nuclear division, including managing the Farley Nuclear Plant. In 1985, he began a three-year tenure as vice president of nuclear operations for Middle South Utilities. After significantly improving the Grand Gulf Nuclear Plant, he was named chief nuclear officer of the Nuclear Generation Group at the Tennessee Valley Authority and was credited with the turnaround of the agency's nuclear program and the restart of all shutdown units.

In 1997, he joined Unicom as president and chief nuclear officer of its nuclear generation group. Under his leadership, the company's nuclear program experienced marked improvement and growth, and in 2000, Unicom merged with PECO to create Exelon Corporation. Before his retirement in 2004, Kingsley served as president and chief operating officer of Exelon Corporation and as chief executive of Exelon Generation, which today is one of the largest power generators in the nation.

A former president of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), in 2003 Kingsley received the WANO Nuclear Excellence Award, the international industry's highest civilian honor. He also received the Walter Zinn Award in 2000 from the American Nuclear Society as recognition of his leadership in nuclear power and the William S. Lee Award in 2007 from the Nuclear Energy Institute for his lifetime contributions to nuclear power excellence. In 2009, Kingsley received the Henry DeWolf Smyth Nuclear Statesman Award, which recognizes statesmanlike contributions by the organizations representing the businesses and professionals involved in commercial nuclear technologies.

"Oliver has been more than successful in his endeavors on behalf of the College of Engineering," said Engineering Dean Larry Benefield. "I personally applaud his efforts as he works tirelessly towards his goals, and we look forward to his continued accomplishments for Auburn University."