AUBURN – 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, has joined the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Kingsley revolutionized the operation of U.S. nuclear power plants and has received every major United States and international award available to professionals in the civilian field of nuclear energy.
“Mr. Kingsley brings to Auburn a double distinction,” said Jay Gogue, Auburn University president. “He combines a stellar career leading top organizations along with membership in the National Academies, one of the highest honors that can be achieved by an engineer. He will be a great asset to Auburn in identifying and recruiting other members of the Academies.”
Auburn’s strategic plan, approved by its Board of Trustees in June, calls for increasing the number of members of the Academies among its faculty, which “distinguishes leading national universities, helping them attract the best students and other top faculty to their institutions,” Gogue said.
“Mr. Kingsley is a longtime supporter of the College of Engineering, and his experience and reputation are sure to bring a great deal to our program,” said Engineering Dean Larry Benefield. “His knowledge of the field of engineering, as well as his personal connection to the national academies, make him ideally suited to help bring new distinguished faculty members into the college.”
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.
“Mr. Kingsley chaired the College of Engineering’s campaign leadership team and was on the national board of the It Begins at Auburn campaign,” Benefield said, “He and his wife, Sally, were instrumental in helping the college surpass its $105 million campaign goal.” Kingsley also is active on the executive committee of the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council.
The National Academies originated in 1863, when a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln created a private, nonprofit institution comprised of experts in areas of science, health, and technology, from which U.S. leaders and the general public have since sought critical advice. Today, four organizations comprise the institution: the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council.
(Contributed by Sara Borchik.)