|Dean Thomas Cooley
hosted a celebratory luncheon at NYU Stern in honor of Tatsuro
Toyoda, a 1958 Stern alumnus who received an honorary Doctor
of Commercial Science degree at NYU’s
Commencement Ceremony on May 13, 2004.
from left to right are Professor Eitan Zemel, W. Edwards
Deming Professor of Quality & Productivity and
chairman, Department of Information, Operations & Management
Sciences; William R. Berkley, NYU Trustee, chairman of the
Stern Board of Overseers and chairman and CEO, W.R. Berkley
Corporation; Mr. Toyoda; Dean Cooley; Mrs. Toyoda; Diana Deming
Cahill, founding trustee of the W. Edwards Deming Institute
and daughter of W. Edwards Deming; Professor Ernest Kurnow,
Mr. Toyoda’s former Statistics teacher at Stern and a
former colleague of W. Edwards Deming; and Yi Lu, a doctoral
candidate in Statistics who currently holds the W. Edwards
Tatsuro Toyoda, a 1958 alumnus
of NYU Stern, knows what it takes to build a global auto
brand. He has worked in the family business — Toyota Motor Corporation — for
more than a half century, and served as president from 1992
to 1995. Throughout his long, eventful career, Mr. Toyoda
carried with him lessons learned at NYU Stern from Professor
W. Edwards Deming. As an apostle of quality control, Professor
Deming worked with many Japanese companies in the 1950s and
1960s, including Toyota. By following his statistical quality
control techniques, Japanese manufacturers like Toyota built
up a reputation for quality that enabled them to penetrate
At NYU’s Commencement
Ceremony on May 13, 2004, Mr. Toyoda received an honorary Doctor
of Commercial Science degree. At a dinner with NYU Trustees
on the evening of May 12, Mr. Toyoda reflected on his career,
and on his experience at NYU Stern.
|W. Edwards Deming
Born in Iowa, and educated at the University of Wyoming
in Cheyenne, W. Edwards Deming received graduate degrees
in physics and mathematics from the University of Colorado
and Yale University.
But the scientist would make his mark in a different
field: Statistics. In the 1940s, Deming was an adviser
to the Bureau of the Census, which was starting to use
sampling techniques to count the U.S. population. In
1946, Deming joined the faculty of what is now the NYU
Stern School of Business as a professor of Statistics,
and started a consulting practice to advise companies
and institutions on the use of statistical quality control.
While he didn’t find many clients among American
businesses, Deming quickly learned that Japanese companies
were eager for his expertise.
He was convinced that the use of statistical methods
could help Japanese companies rebuild, improve quality,
and compete in global markets. In 1950, he delivered
a series of eight day-long lectures, which were attended
by many top Japanese business and industry leaders. He
told them that "Japanese quality could be the best
in the world, instead of the worst." Deming returned
to Japan several times in the 1950s, ultimately helping
to train some 20,000 engineers in statistical methods
and directly influencing Japan’s remarkable postwar
recovery. Almost instantly, Deming became something of
a folk hero in Japan. And in 1960, Emperor Hirohito bestowed
on Deming the Second Order Medal of the Sacred Treasure.
Even as Japan continued to rise as a global manufacturing
power, Deming’s teachings on the need for worker
cooperation and continuous quality improvement were largely
ignored in the U.S. It wasn’t until the 1980s,
when U.S. industry aimed to recapture ground lost to
Japanese firms, that Deming’s ideas were discovered
in his home country. The author of several books and
more than 150 papers, Deming died in 1993 at the age
Thank you, President Sexton, and good evening.
I am honored to be here tonight with NYU Board Chair Martin Lipton,
the NYU Trustees, fellow honorary degree recipients, and other
It is a great honor to receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Commercial
When I came to the United States
for the first time in 1955, we didn’t
sell any vehicles here. It was two years later, in 1957, when our
first vehicle – the Crown – was shipped to the United
Unfortunately, at that time,
Toyota vehicles were not comparable to the "Big Three" in
terms of quality and driving performance. Since then, we worked
hard to produce a better car for this great country.
I had the fortune to attend a
class taught by Dr. W. Edwards Deming during my days at the NYU
Stern School of Business. Many Japanese companies followed Professor
Deming’s advice, and substantially
improved their quality control in manufacturing and other areas.
His landmark work is widely acknowledged among Japanese companies – and
one of the most prestigious awards in Japan is the Deming Prize.
When I was a student at NYU, our annual new car sales were less than
300 units. Last year, thanks to American customers, we sold over
two million cars and trucks in the North American market, and our
four assembly plants in North America built more than 60 percent
of those vehicles.
From the beginning of our operations, we have sought to contribute
to society through our investment, employment, and corporate citizenship
activities. In recent years, we have focused on safety and environmental
initiatives. For example, our advanced technology hybrid gas-electric
vehicles achieve high mileage and reduce emissions.
I, and my colleagues at Toyota, owe a debt of gratitude to America.
And we will work hard to repay it by continuing to provide jobs and
investments here, and by building safer and more environmentally
My time at NYU taught me about
American consumers and their tastes. This knowledge came in handy
20 years ago when I was asked to head Toyota’s first vehicle
assembly plant in the United States, New United Motor Manufacturing,
Inc., or NUMMI as we call it. Located in Fremont, California, this
joint venture plant with General Motors is still a thriving success
some two decades later.
When I returned to Japan after
NUMMI, I was named president of Toyota Motor Corporation – and
I continued to pursue my dream of making a positive contribution
I want to thank NYU for giving
me a good foundation in business and in my personal life – that
served me well in my career with Toyota.
It is a sincere privilege to have been chosen to receive the honorary
degree of Doctor of Commercial Science from this great university.
I am deeply touched.