North Carolina A&T State University Board of Trustees chairman and alumnus Willie A. Deese has been named to Black Enterprise’s list of The 100 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America.

“It’s an honor to be recognized but more importantly I think about the preparation I received at A&T that’s allowed me to achieve many of my career objectives,” Deese said.

“All those things I’ve learned have allowed me to do the things I’ve been able to do. The message I’m trying to send is that the education I got at A&T is academic, professional and how to deal with life.”

To be selected, each candidate had to be among the highest ranking executives within his or her corporation, managing national and global businesses. The executive must be employed at a publically traded company or an international corporation with gross revenue of at least $1 billion. Executives have to have revenue-generation or operation responsibilities or hold a position critical to product development and the bottom line.  The executive must also have significant influence in their respective business.

Deese is the executive vice president and president of the Merck Manufacturing Division with responsibility for Merck’s worldwide manufacturing operations. He manages a network of more than 80 manufacturing and distribution sites with approximately 26,000 employees in more than 25 countries around the world, with an operating budget of $9 billion.

He says it’s the guidance and encouragement he received from educators like Dr. Danny Pogue and Dr. Quister Craig that has gotten him through his 36-year career.

“They told us ‘you are going to compete with any student from any other school in this country’ and they told us, ‘you are going to win’ and that never left me,” Deese said.

Deese graduated from N.C. A&T with a B.A. in business administration in 1977. He earned his M.B.A. from Western New England College in 1983. Deese was elected to the Board of Trustees in 2007. He is serving his second 4-year term.

He and his wife, Carol, live in Doylestown, Penn.