Emily Follin Smith '81
In October 1976, Emily Follin Smith from Brewton, Alabama, remarked on her application to Davidson that "Following high standards and goals leads to an inner peace and happiness." When she confidently stepped on the Davidson campus in fall 1977, she must have been determined to follow that motto, as her life is a study in setting standards and achieving goals.
At Davidson, she was a member of Rusk House and spent her junior year abroad in France. After majoring in psychology and receiving her bachelor's degree, she earned her M.B.A. from the University of Virginia in 1985. Follin began her General Motors career in 1985, with the treasurer's office in New York, rapidly moving up the ranks through capital markets, worldwide banking and cash management, corporate finance and investments, and overseas finance. She was Treasurer of GM of Canada Limited in Ontario before being named as one of two Assistant Treasurers for all of General Motors. She then served as Chief Financial Officer for Delphi Chassis Systems, a division of General Motors based in Dayton, Ohio, which would find its place on the Fortune 200 list if it stood apart from the larger corporation.
Most recently, she accepted an appointment as vice president and treasurer of Armstrong World Industries, Inc., a manufacturer and marketer of interior furnishings. With 10,600 employees worldwide, Armstrong had sales of approximately $2.2 billion in 1997.
In the midst of her busy career, Follin always has responded to alma mater's call. Currently, she is a member of Davidson's Board of Visitors. She is married to John R. Gerdy '79, and they have two children, Emily Wallace Gerdy and James Gerdy.
Because you have been recognized and rewarded time and again for your insight, intelligence, decisiveness, and composure; because you have no patience with the notion of a glass ceiling and are the highest ranking Davidson alumna in the highly competitive corporate world; because you have blazed a global path for others to follow with no end in sight; and because you make Davidson proud to claim you as her own, the Alumni Association presents you, Emily Follin Smith, the Distinguished Alumna Award on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of coeducation at Davidson College, October 23, 1998.