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.

Pictured 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 Deming Fellowship.


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 distant markets.

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 of 93.

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 distinguished guests.

It is a great honor to receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Commercial Science.

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 States.

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 friendly vehicles.

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 to society.

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.

Thank you.