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Convocation speaker shares wisdom with graduates

William Dorey, B.S. Construction Engineering ’67

In 1967, William G. Dorey graduated from Arizona State University with a B.S. degree in construction engineering. Dorey returned to ASU in May 2011 to speak at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering spring convocation.

Dorey retired last August from a 42–year career with Granite Construction Incorporated, one of the largest heavy-civil contractors in the United States today. His successor is a 28-year veteran of the company. The top four operations people, like Dorey, joined the company right out of school.

Dorey notes that such loyalty is not unusual in the construction industry. In fact, his father was a Granite employee. He says he “felt like he grew up in the back of a Granite Construction pickup truck.”

In his first job with the company, he was in Monterrey in a small office that he describes as 70 feet square, gravel roof, lime green, swinging saloon doors and a bell that went off to announce visitors. He was greeted by the man who would become his mentor, Bob Atkins, who said, “Skippy, welcome to the Atkins school for boys.”

Dorey would follow Atkins to San Diego following an acquisition of a smaller company. Not long after, Atkins retired and Dorey took on managerial responsibilities at the age of 28.

“It was a time in my career when I didn’t know what I didn’t know,” he says. “But collectively we made it work.”

Granite Construction continued to grow as did Dorey’s responsibilities. Ultimately, he became president then chief executive officer. Under his leadership, the company employed nearly 6,000 people in any given season across the United States and achieved peak revenue of nearly $3 billion. He still serves as a director of the company.

“College trains you how to learn. You never have all of the knowledge that you need—and you don’t need to know it all. You just need to know how to find the answers,” Dorey says.

Dorey is also an active participant in the community. He is founding chairman, Construction Industry Ethics Compliance Initiative (CIECI) Steering Committee; trustee, Norman Y. Mineta International Institute for Surface Transportation Policy Studies; director, California Chamber of Commerce; director, California Business Roundtable; and president, White Rock Club. Dorey has also served on the Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT), Cal Poly Dean’s Advisory Council, and the Caltrans/AGC Liaison Committee. He is a past director of TIC, Wilder Construction and Carmel Youth Baseball.

Dorey was honored for his work in the community by the Junior Achievement of Silicon Valley and Monterey Bay in 2009 and is an active supporter of the Boys and Girls Club of the Monterey Peninsula.

At convocation, Dorey contrasts the change that is happening in the world with underlying values that he believes should not change.

“Change today is faster and different. These graduates have the opportunity to change the world, not just here but the whole world. They will do that,” he says.

“But there are critical elements to the underlying human condition that we need to honor such as character and the value of people,” he says.

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Fulton Schools

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