Chrysler Group board of directors has two new members - Ruth Simmons and Erickson Perkins. They were appointed last Sunday. A Chrysler spokeswoman said that they will fill the expired seat left by former Michigan Gov. James Blanchard and a position that had been vacant since last September. Simmons, 66 years old, has been the president of Brown University since 2001 while Perkins, 57 years old, is the director of the UAW's strategic research department where he helps in leading the organizing efforts of the union. In a statement, Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said that its new board members offer their outstanding experience as leaders in their own fields. He also cites the benefits of their diverse perspectives as the company aims to meet the financial goals in its business plan.
By the end of the month, Simmons will step down as Brown’s president but will stay as a professor. Before becoming a part of Brown, she served as the president of Smith College, the largest women's college in the U.S. Chrysler said that she is a board member at several companies and institutions including Princeton University and Texas Instruments. Perkins was on the presidential staff of the UAW since July 2010 and is a former consultant on several trade unions with regards to economic issues and organizing strategies.
He is one of three UAW appointees on the National Institute for Health Care Reform board. This is a non-profit joint company created by the three Detroit automakers to conduct health policy research and analysis. Blanchard’s experience includes being a board member appointed by VEBA (the UAW's Retiree Benefits Trust), which holds the 41.5% of Chrysler stock that Fiat S.p.A. doesn’t own. Chrysler’s board hasn’t had a UAW official ever since September 2007 when former UAW president Ron Gettelfinger stepped down. This was during the time that Chrysler was sold by Daimler AG to Cerberus Capital Management.