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Wayne Downing
  Gen. Wayne Downing

True Friend and Partner of the Ross School Will Be Greatly Missed

7/24/2007 --

As a visiting faculty member, highly decorated Gen. Wayne Downing taught leadership to hundreds of executives and shared wisdom with MBA students.

Gen. Wayne A. Downing (Ret.), a former commander of American Special Operations forces and senior adviser to President Bush who served as visiting faculty at the Ross School, died July 18 in Peoria, Ill. He was 67.

For the past eight years, Gen. Downing was a visiting faculty member at the Ross School, teaching in the Cycle of Leadership Program and Global Leadership in Health Care executive workshops. He also participated in MBA orientation sessions and MBA citizenship projects.

"Wayne was a true friend and partner with the Ross School over the last decade," said Noel Tichy, director of the Global Business Partnership and professor of management and organizations at the Ross School. "He taught hundreds of executives leadership with great humility and humanity, always finding time to connect with people individually.

"He shared his wisdom on leadership at a number of MBA orientations, and when he was on campus he made time to meet with MBA students. He found extra time for our MBA students who had served in the military. He was also profiled in four books on leadership as an exemplar of good judgment and leadership. We will miss his contribution to the Ross School."

After graduating from West Point in 1962, Gen. Downing served in the Army for 34 years. He completed two infantry combat tours in Vietnam, headed Special Operations missions during the 1989 invasion of Panama, and commanded a joint Special Operations task force behind Iraqi lines during the first Persian Gulf War.

In 1993, he was appointed to the rank of four-star general and assigned as commander-in-chief of the U. S. Special Operations Command. In this final active duty command, Gen. Downing led the nation's 46,000 Special Operations soldiers, sailors and airmen.

One month after Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush extended Downing an appointment as deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism.

When asked to investigate security lapses that allowed terrorists to bomb the Khobar Towers barracks in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 Air Force personnel in June 1996, Downing issued a report that is still analyzed by military officers as a model of an officer's duty to offer candid assessments.

Ross Perot funded the Wayne Downing Counterterrorism Program at West Point, where Gen. Downing taught regularly over the last several years.

Survivors include his wife, Kathryn Bickerman Downing; his mother, Eileen Downing; his sister, Marlianne Fortune, all of Peoria; his daughters, Elizabeth Downing Revell of Clifton, Va., and Laura Downing of Brooklyn, N.Y.; a granddaughter; and several stepchildren and stepgrandchildren.

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat
Phone: (734) 936-1015 or 647-1847