John W. Fisher


Honorary Degree (1985)
Doctor of Laws
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: John William Ryan


John W. Fisher, chairman of the board of Ball Corporation at Muncie, Indiana, is a national leader in industrial development. As president and chief executive officer from 1970 to 1978, and in his earlier executive positions at Ball Corporation, Mr. Fisher has been for many years a force in the development of the company from a manufacturer of jars into a widely diversified technological enterprise of international scope. His achievements as an industrialist, and his civic leadership, have contributed to the growth of Indiana in a new age of industrial opportunity. John Fisher was born in Walland, Tennessee, and received the Bachelor of Science from the University of Tennessee in 1938. After two years during which he served as national field secretary of Delta Tau Delta fraternity, he entered the Harvard Graduate School of Business and was awarded the Master of Business Administration in 1942.

Mr. Fisher first joined Ball Corporation as a trainee in 1941. Following nine years in a variety of manufacturing, sales, and administrative positions, he became vice president for manufacturing in 1950, and in 1954 was named vice president for sales. He was elected a corporate vice president in 1963. In 1970 Mr. Fisher became president and chief executive officer, and was elected chairman and chief executive officer in 1978. In January of 1981 he relinquished his title of chief executive officer as mandated by company policy and today continues to guide Ball Corporation as chairman of the board.

From its headquarters in Indiana, Ball Corporation, with 11,000 employees, controls manufacturing facilities in fourteen states and overseas. John Fisher's vision and executive brilliance, and his concern for a wide range of social issues have carried forward the traditions of innovation and public interest of the corporation and enhanced its growth across a broad spectrum of manufacturing and technical areas. These include the development of metal container technology that significantly reduces the amount of metal used and responds to environmental concerns; the engineering of sophisticated instruments for the Mars Viking Orbiter, the Space Shuttle, Skylab, and other government aerospace projects; and, through Ball Agricultural Systems, formed in 1975, the promotion of worldwide agricultural development through innovative engineering and land management systems. Under Mr. Fisher's guidance, Ball Corporation has expanded abroad to plants in Northern Ireland, Sweden, and West Germany.

John Fisher's record of achievement and dynamic leadership have earned him national and international recognition. In 1979 he was selected chairman of the National Association of Manufacturers, an honor that identifies him as one of the outstanding business executives in the country. His farsightedness and broad public concern have advanced the goals of the organization, which he has also served as director, vice chairman, and currently, chairman of the finance committee. Mr. Fisher brings the benefit of his experience to a long list of corporations and associations. He is a director of the New York Stock Exchange, Inland Steel Company, Ransburg Corporation, the Corporation for Innovation and Development of Indianapolis, Indiana Bell Telephone Company, Kindel Furniture Company, Devon Energy Corporation, and the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce, among others, and is a past president of the Glass Packaging Institute.

In Indiana, his active commitment to educational and community interests reflects his personal concern for the advancement of the state. He has served two governors as a member of the Commission on Higher Education and is a member of the Board of Governors of the Associated Colleges of Indiana, a member of the Governor's Commission on Medical Education and of the East Central Indiana Committee on Education, and an honorary trustee of DePauw University. His support has promoted the work of Indiana University, in particular through the Aerospace Research Application Center and the School of Business.

John Fisher's contributions to Indiana, in both public service and industrial development, have been recognized by honorary degrees from DePauw University, Butler University, and Ball State University, and by his election in 1974 to the Indiana Academy. The sense of corporate responsibility to the larger community has long been a tradition of Ball Corporation. That value finds outstanding expression in the life and work of John Fisher.