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Citigroup's Thomas Jones, one of Wall Street's highest-ranking African-American executives, is Cornell's 1999 Durland Memorial lecturer

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Citigroup's strategy for flourishing in an era of increased competition from all corners of the world is the topic of Thomas W. Jones' Durland Lecture on April 8. Jones, who earned an A.B. from Cornell in 1969 and a master's degree in regional planning in 1972, is the co-chair and CEO of Citigroup's SSB Citi Asset Management Group, one of the largest asset management firms in the world, with over $325 billion assets under management.

The Durland Memorial Lecture is the most prestigious invitational lecture at Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management. This year's talk, titled "Citigroup Asset Management: Positioning for Strength in the Global Economy," will be at 4:30 p.m. in Rockefeller Hall's Schwartz Auditorium.

Jones is visiting the campus both to give the Durland lecture and to present the 1999 Perkins Prize for Interracial Understanding and Harmony. Jones established a President's Endowment Fund creating the award in 1994. The prize honors a member of the Cornell community for fostering inclusion, acceptance, and community among the university's diverse members.

Jones also will spend time with master's degree students in the Johnson School. He will have breakfast with members of the Minority Graduate Business Association, participate in the immersion class on financial markets, attend a luncheon with the school's Park Leadership Fellows and be honored at a private reception and dinner.

In 1997, Jones became vice chairman of the Travelers Group and served as chairman and chief executive officer of Salomon Smith Barney Asset Management. At the time he was the highest-ranking African-American at Travelers. The company merged with Citicorp, becoming Citigroup in 1998. The expanded firm now manages assets valued at more than $325 billion, as noted above.

Before the move to Travelers and Citigroup, Jones was vice chairman, president and chief operations officer of Teachers Insurance & Annuity Association and College Retirement Equities, a firm he joined in 1989 as executive vice president and CFO. Interviewed in the Wall Street Journal Aug. 15, 1997, Jones said he made the switch from overseeing about $200 billion in pension-fund assets at TIAA-CREF to managing about $120 billion in assets at the Travelers because he liked the bigger stage and the challenge of competing globally. He likened the opportunity to "getting to play in the Superbowl."

Before TIAA-CREF, Jones was senior vice president and treasurer at John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company of Boston, Mass. His career took off in 1973, when he was recruited by the big-eight accounting and consulting firm Arthur Young and Company. During the stint at Arthur Young, he also became a certified public accountant and earned an MBA degree at Boston University.

At Cornell, Jones is a member of the university's board of trustees, the Weill Medical College's board of overseers, and the Dean's Advisory Council of the College of Architecture, Art and Planning. He also contributes time and energy to nonprofit programs such as "Courage to Succeed," which teaches computer skills to middle school students in New York City's predominantly African-American Harlem district. He serves on the boards of New York City's Educational Broadcasting Corp., Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac) and Pepsi Bottling Group.

The Durland Memorial Lecture series brings distinguished executives from the fields of business, finance and investment management to Cornell annually and is sponsored by the Johnson School. Roy H. Park, the late chairman of Park Communications Inc. and a small group of donors initiated the lectures in 1983 to honor former Cornell Treasurer Lewis H. Durland.

Past Durland presenters have included Abby Joseph Cohen, now a partner at Goldman, Sachs & Co.; Lucio A. Noto, chairman and chief executive officer of Mobil Corp.; and Dennis D. Dammerman, now vice chairman of the board and executive officer of General Electric Co. and chairman and chief executive officer of General Electric Capital Service.