seal  2004 Honorary Degree

Donald R. Willis

Doctor Of Engineering

Donald R. Willis has distinguished himself as an entrepreneur and business leader.

Donald R. Willis

He is one of the most successful businessmen and generous individuals in the Fort Wayne area.

Born in Princeton, Ind., and raised in Evansville, Willis earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Evansville and took advanced studies at the University of Michigan.

Willis’ 43 years of successful entrepreneurial and business experience includes 13 years as president of Command System Inc., a company he helped found in January of 1989. Command System Inc., (CSI) concentrates on the development of intelligent networked systems for the support of industrial, operational, or tactical command and management responsibilities. The focus of this concentration is in providing near real-time "decision support" for the decision-maker or manager wherever he or she is in the organizational structure.

Willis also had 22 years of experience at Magnavox Electronic Systems Company in Fort Wayne prior to its acquisition by Hughes Aircraft/Raytheon. He had several major accomplishments while with Magnavox, including the acquisition of the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System Program and the development of satellite navigation systems. He also pioneered the development of large (up to 1 meter) flat-panel plasma displays and directed the acquisition, development, and production of the Fire Support Team Digital Message Device and the Digital Message Device line of products.

Prior to joining Magnavox, Willis was a computer systems research scientist with the U.S. Navy. He is a member of several professional organizations and is an accomplished musician. He also has been a lecturer on the topics of logic design and display technology at both Purdue University and George Washington University.

Since the sale of CSI to General Dynamics in the summer of 2002, Willis has been instrumental in the founding of three new organizations – FourD Education Foundation, FourD Development and FourthWave – all designed to help create a better quality of life for people living in the Fort Wayne area.

Most recently, Willis was awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest honor bestowed by the governor of Indiana for distinguished service to the state. He also is entrepreneur-in-residence at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne’s School of Business.