Massey becomes Bank of America chairman

The Charlotte ObserverApril 30, 2009 

Bank of America's new chairman is a distinguished physicist, respected academic administrator and longtime bank director, who has dined with the Queen of England and danced at the White House.

Walter Massey, 71, is president emeritus of Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he is credited with attracting Oprah Winfrey, Ray Charles, actor Denzel Washington and other big names as donors. The Mississippi native previously was provost of the University of California system.

Massey also has served as director of the National Science Foundation, an appointment by President George H.W. Bush. Former colleagues describe him as a thoughtful consensus builder who is not afraid to make a tough call.

"He's got iron in his spine," said Lawrence Carter Sr., who is dean of Morehouse's Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, bearing the name of one of the school's most famous alumni. "He can be very decisive, and he can be very swift. He will not tolerate incompetence."

Massey's path to the chairmanship of the nation's largest bank began far from the halls of corporate power, as the son of a teacher and manual laborer in segregated Hattiesburg, Miss. He gained early admission to Morehouse at age 16, graduating with a bachelor of science in physics and mathematics in 1958, and went on to earn a doctorate in physics from Washington University in St. Louis in 1966.

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