Former Cree Inc. CEO named innovator-in-residence at Marquette University

Chuck Swoboda launches Innovators on Tap podcast

chuck swoboda
Chuck Swoboda, innovator-in-residence at Marquette University.

Last updated on September 26th, 2019 at 02:06 pm

Marquette University announced Chuck Swoboda, an alumnus and former longtime chief executive officer of Cree Inc., as its first-ever innovator-in-residence.

Swoboda, a 1989 Marquette graduate, and his wife, Karen, a 1990 graduate, donated $2.5 million in April to support leadership development programs through the university’s Innovation Alley initiative and the university’s men’s basketball program. The couple’s $1 million gift allowed the university to double the size of Engineers in the Lead (E-Lead), a three-year leadership development program in Marquette’s Opus College of Engineering.

In his new role within the Opus College of Engineering, Swoboda has launched Innovators on Tap, a podcast that will highlight stories of innovators and thought leaders in various fields.

“I had the opportunity to witness innovation up close and personal every day, and I learned that innovation is fundamentally about leadership, not management,” Swoboda said. “It is a mindset to find a better way, and ultimately innovation is about people. It is an incredible honor to give back to my alma mater and to also learn from the next generation of innovators.”

Swoboda joined Cree, a Durham, North Carolina-based lighting company, in 1993. He was CEO from 2001 until he stepped down in 2017.

Now a $1.1 billion company, Cree created its first consumer products, two household LED lightbulbs, during Swoboda’s tenure as CEO.

“Our students will benefit immensely from a proven CEO who embraces risk, sees change as opportunity and starts by developing each individual person,” said Kristina Ropella, Opus Dean of the Opus College of Engineering.

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.

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