United CEO elected to Board of Trustees

USC announced Sunday that Oscar Munoz, the CEO of United Airlines and a Marshall School of Business alumnus, has been elected to the USC Board of Trustees.

Photo of Oscar Munoz courtesy of USC News.

Munoz graduated from USC in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He was the first in his family to attend college and was raised in an immigrant family. He hopes to use his role on the Board of Trustees to advocate for students like him, according to USC News.

“I’ve never forgotten just how fortunate I was to become the first in my family to attend college,” Munoz said to USC News. “And I feel a tremendous obligation and sense of joy to be able to open that door of opportunity to others.”

Munoz said he sees his role as a trustee as giving back to the Trojan community, USC News said.

“The memories we created [at USC] grew into lifelong relationships that I treasure to this day,” Munoz told USC News. “Having an opportunity to serve this place which served me so well in life is something I am very much looking forward to. The saying ‘A Trojan for life’ definitely sums up the journey I’ve taken from student to alumni to trustee.”

President C. L. Max Nikias told USC News that Munoz’s business skills make him a suitable addition to the University’s Board of Trustees.

“Oscar Munoz is an extraordinarily talented leader, highly effective communicator and distinguished Trojan alumnus,” Nikias told USC News. “His knowledge, management skills and business acumen will be a tremendous asset to the university and our Board of Trustees.”

Before becoming the CEO of United Airlines, Munoz held positions at both PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, and chief financial officer at AT&T. Immediately before moving to United, Munoz was the president and chief operating officer at CSX Corporation, a rail transportation company.

At United, Munoz is credited with increasing the airline’s yearly traffic to 150 million passengers. However, Munoz has also been criticized for his role at United. In April 2017, a passenger on an overbooked United flight was forcibly removed from the flight after he refused to leave the plane. Cell phone video footage from other passengers on the plane showed the passenger being dragged down the aisle of the plane.

In response, Munoz initially sent out an email to United employees stating that the passenger in question was “disruptive and belligerent” and claimed that employees followed “established procedures” in their removal of the passenger.

Munoz also issued a public statement apologizing for having to “re-accommodate” passengers, without acknowledging the forced removal of the passenger. Munoz later sent out an updated statement that acknowledged the company’s fault in the incident.

In February, USC also announced that the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum would be renamed the United Airlines Memorial Coliseum in a $69 million naming rights deal with United. It is unclear whether Munoz played any role in securing the naming rights of the Coliseum for the company.