Jon Slangerup ('81, WW) was elected to the Embry-Riddle Board of Trustees in March 2014. He is a member of the Business Partnership, Development, and Investment committees.
While working full-time for the U.S. Navy as a civilian anti-submarine weapons systems program manager, Jon Slangerup also was busy raising two children, with a third on the way, and working toward a degree that would change his career trajectory.
Thanks to his coworkers, Slangerup discovered Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which had just started operating a Worldwide Campus location in the 1970s for adult learners at military bases and civilian sites. Long days spent working on aircraft systems at military bases and, subsequently, for two airlines were followed by long nights in the classroom.
“I was determined to be something more than a mechanic since that seemed to be where I was heading,” said Slangerup, who attended classes at Embry-Riddle’s former location at San Francisco International Airport.
For him, Embry-Riddle was a perfect fit. “If you were in the aviation game, working full time, and had the ambition to get a four-year degree, there weren’t many education options. Other schools had convenient classes, but not in aviation. And I was totally focused on a career in commercial aviation,” he said.
In 1981, Slangerup graduated cum laude from Embry-Riddle with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Aeronautics and began a successful career path in the fields of corporate aviation and supply chain management.
“It took six years to get a four-year degree, but it was well worth it,” he said. “That degree has been the foundation for much of what I have accomplished in my career. It’s a brilliant program for people in similar circumstances.”
After graduation from Embry-Riddle, Slangerup began a 20-year career with Fedex Corp., where he held several senior executive positions, ultimately becoming President of FedEx Canada. Following his career with FedEx, he went on to accrue several more years of executive leadership experience, primarily in aviation and logistics. Slangerup is currently Chairman and CEO of American Global Logistics, a leading high-tech logistics and supply chain solutions company.
Watching Embry-Riddle’s Progress
Although he attended a Worldwide Campus location, Slangerup became familiar with Embry-Riddle’s residential campus in Daytona Beach, Florida, in the 1980s shortly after reading a Time magazine article calling the university the “Harvard of the Sky.” His visit revealed a modest campus located adjacent to Daytona Beach International Airport, supported by classrooms and offices in Quonset huts, military-style prefabricated buildings.
“It was very modest,” he said with a laugh. “I remember what it was and I marvel at what it is today. Over the course of the years it’s been stunning to see the university’s progress.”
Slangerup’s shift toward deeper involvement with the university began many years after his visit to the Daytona Beach Campus, when his mention of Embry-Riddle in his LinkedIn profile was pointed out to Dr. John Watret, the Worldwide Campus chancellor.
“Dr. Watret encouraged me to become a trustee because he valued the perspective I’d gained as a Worldwide graduate with diverse career accomplishments,” he said.
Giving Back to a ‘Life Saver’
Slangerup was elected to the Board of Trustees in March 2014 and serves on multiple committees in addition to the university's Research Park Advisory Board.
“Being a member of the Board of Trustees is just a tremendous honor to me,” he said. “My colleagues around the table are amazing, smart, generous, and they care deeply about Embry-Riddle because many of them are alumni.”
Looking to the future, Slangerup said one of the university’s biggest challenges is to raise its endowment to the level typical of major universities. “The university’s new administration is making this a priority because the financial burden, at this point, is on the students. We have to be aware that their careers are largely fueled by their education and experience at Embry-Riddle,” he said. “All of us need to contribute more.”
For Slangerup, Embry-Riddle was a “life saver” that led to incredible career success. “That’s why I’ll always be grateful to the university,” he said. “That’s why I give back in every way I can, to continually strengthen Embry-Riddle and make it the best possible experience for our talented and dedicated students.”