Dr. Leah Curry praises VU for its diverse degrees, certificates and student body

Leah Curry speaking at the VU 2024 Commencement.

June 04, 2024

VINCENNES, Ind. - Vincennes University has awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business to retired Toyota executive Leah Curry, marking a pinnacle moment in her esteemed career. 

"Dr. Curry's dedication to excellence, innovation, and community engagement embodies the values we hold dear at Vincennes University,” VU President Dr. Chuck Johnson said. “VU is honored to recognize her outstanding contributions with the conferral of an Honorary Doctorate of Business. It speaks to her exceptional leadership in the automotive industry and commitment to advancing education and opportunity."

Reflecting on the transformative impact of education, Curry expressed great pride in VU’s leadership in fostering diversity and inclusivity. 

"As I watched all the students receive their degree or certificate, I was so proud of Vincennes University's leadership in diverse degrees/certificates, diverse student population and faculty,” she said. “Great to see in Southern Indiana."

Curry and Student Government Association Pres. Marissa Bradley.Curry described receiving an honorary doctorate as "one of the most humbling and honored moments" of her life. She was awarded the accolade at the Spring 2024 Commencement in the P.E. Complex.

"I was blessed that my mother and husband could attend and share the experience,” Curry said. “I will be forever grateful and supportive of the great Vincennes University faculty and students."

While speaking to VU Class of 2024 graduates during the Commencement exercises, Curry highlighted her collaboration with VU, particularly in developing the Advanced Manufacturing Technician Program more than a decade ago.

The innovative program combines classroom and lab instruction with onsite experience with companies like Toyota, Hershey, and Berry Global. The AMT program includes a two-year degree in Advanced Manufacturing Automation Technology, and students also work as paid interns at an AMT Partner facility, with many interns starting at $17 per hour. 

"Over the years, I have been closely involved with Vincennes University when we partnered together to start the Advanced Manufacturing Technician Program in 2013," Curry said. "Hundreds of students have graduated and have been hired by Toyota and numerous other companies. This close relationship continues to grow as technology advances. Thank you, VU!"

Curry, known for her passion for STEM education and commitment to empowering future generations, offers students priceless advice.

"My advice to the current and prospective students is to follow their passion," she said. "If they don't know it yet, try experiencing new subjects, technology, internships, or summer camps. You will find it! Don't stop trying new ideas, and immerse yourself in as many opportunities as you can."

Throughout a distinguished career spanning 26 years at Toyota, Curry has exemplified visionary leadership. She held the position of President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana, Inc. (TMMI) before retiring, Curry played a pivotal role in advancing Toyota's manufacturing operations and fostering a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. Previously, she served as president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, West Virginia, Inc., a transmissions and engines manufacturing plant in Buffalo, West Virginia. Throughout her career, Curry has also served as the vice president of manufacturing positions, general manager of assembly, and held management positions in body weld, stamping, maintenance, production engineering, and new model launch at TMMI.

In 2022, she was inducted into the Women in Manufacturing Hall of Fame. In 2013, Curry received the Manufacturing Institute Step Ahead award, which recognizes female leadership in manufacturing. She was twice named one of the top 100 women in automotive by Automotive News in 2015 and 2020. She was also named one of the 250 most influential people in Indiana by Indiana Business Journal in 2022.

Additionally, Curry has remained deeply committed to serving her community and empowering others. She currently serves on the board of directors of Deaconess Health Systems. She champions women in STEM-related fields and supports initiatives focused on education, workforce development, and diversity, advocating for positive change and opportunity for all individuals.

As VU honors Dr. Curry with an Honorary Doctorate of Business, the University celebrates her lasting impact on industry, education, Indiana, and beyond. Her extraordinary leadership and selfless dedication inspire future generations to reach new heights of achievement.

# # #