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2008.11.05 > For Immediate Release
contact: Wendy Townley - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: wtownley@unomaha.edu

Airline Pioneer to Lecture at UNO Nov. 17

Omaha - Colleen C. Barrett, president emeritus of Southwest Airlines, the nation’s most successful low-cost airline, will be honored by the Aviation Institute of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) on Monday, Nov. 17. Barrett will receive the William F. Shea Award for her contributions to aviation and will present the 2008 Charles W. Durham Distinguished Guest Lecture.

The event, which is being held at the Strauss Performing Arts Center on the UNO campus, begins with a reception at 6:45 p.m. The lecture will begin at 7:15 p.m. Both the reception and the lecture are free and open to the public. Parking will be available in the parking structure on the east end of campus.

Barrett is uniquely qualified to talk about the current state of affairs in the beleaguered airline industry and to share her insights on how Southwest Airlines has not only survived, but prospered. While other carriers are cutting back on their fleets and route networks, Southwest is continuing to add service to new cities, such as the recently announced service to Minneapolis. Barrett is also well positioned to talk about Southwest’s corporate culture, which has focused on keeping both customers and employees happy while maintaining a highly efficient transportation company.

Barrett’s career with Southwest began in 1978. She has served the airline in numerous capacities including corporate secretary, member of the board of directors, vice president – Administration, executive vice president-Customers prior to becoming the first female president of a major airline in 2001. She stepped down as a Southwest officer on July 16, 2008. Her efforts at Southwest have shaped the company into a profitable, growing, and often-imitated commercial air carrier.

Barrett has been recognized by Forbes, Fortune and BusinessWeek magazines as one of America’s most influential businesswomen. She has been honored for both her aviation and her civic accomplishments by organizations including Girls, Inc., Junior Achievement, Women in Aviation International, and the National Organization of Women.

Southwest Airlines has played an important role in the development of air travel in Omaha and the surrounding area. Starting service to Omaha in 1995, Southwest became the first low-cost carrier to serve the region. The impact was substantial as passenger volumes surged at Omaha's Eppley Airfield. Southwest currently operates non-stop flights from Omaha to five major cities: Phoenix, Las Vegas, Chicago, St. Louis, and Denver, which was added in September of this year. Southwest currently accounts for nearly 24 percent of the passengers traveling to and from Omaha by air.

The Charles W. Durham Distinguished Guest Lecture Series was established at UNO to honor Durham for his inspiration and financial support as the lead co-founder of the UNO Aviation Institute. The Aviation Institute holds the Durham Lecture each year and presents the guest lecturer with the William F. Shea Award for Distinguished Contributions to Aviation. This award is given in honor of the Aviation Institute's founding director, William F. Shea, and is presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to aviation locally and nationally.

For more information contact Vida Hill at (402) 554-2495 or vhill@unomaha.edu.

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UNO will celebrate its 100th anniversary beginning October 8, 2008. This celebration will recognize the partnership among the City of Omaha, its citizens and UNO to build a vibrant and dynamic community. The centennial theme is “UNO: Central To Our City Since 1908.” This theme acknowledges the past contributions of UNO to the community and sets the stage for great things to come.

UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908. For Centennial information, go to http://www.unomaha.edu/100/.

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