Chicago State family celebrates ascendancy of Don Thompson to McDonald's Corp. chief
March 29, 2012 — Chicago State University congratulates Don Thompson on his recent appointment as chief executive officer of the McDonald's Corp. That the Chicago State University Foundation chose to honor Thompson at its annual gala in September 2011 was a harbinger of great things to come for the Chicago native, students and community members who have been inspired by his hard work and leadership example.
"It is Thompson's life mission to do what he can to help others, just as others have been committed to him," Katey Assem, executive director of the CSU Foundation, told Sandra Guy of the Chicago Sun-Times. The nonprofit, fund-raising arm of CSU recognized Thompson in 2011 for his mentoring work and scholarship contributions.
Assem told the Sun-Times how Thompson mentored a struggling student, ultimately helping him with his studies, taking him to church and paying for his education. The student graduated with a degree in electrical engineering, the same as Thompson, who graduated from Purdue University.
Thompson often credits his grandmother, Rosa Martin, with helping him achieve success as a man of faith and integrity. He will become the sixth African-American CEO among today's Fortune 500 company leaders.
"Don's rise to the top is truly amazing but certainly a journey to which every student should appreciate and aspire," said Attorney Maurice Grant, chairman of the CSU Foundation board. "He embodies the ethos of the talented tenth, pursuing excellence in all things, then sharing it so those coming behind him can achieve their goals, too."
Thompson replaces his mentor and current CEO, Jim Skinner, 67, who announced recently that he is retiring June 30 after a 41-year career at the Golden Arches. McDonald's is based in Oakbrook, IL, and operates in 33,000-plus locations worldwide, serving 68 million customers daily.