CN announced today it promoted Jim Vena from senior vice president-southern region to executive vice president and chief operating officer. He succeeds Keith Creel, who earlier this month joined Canadian Pacific as president and COO.
Vena joined CN in 1977 as a brakeman in Jasper, Alberta. He later held progressively responsible assignments in operations and marketing, and led all three of the Class I's operating regions.
"Jim has a wealth of railway experience and strong leadership skills, [and] I am confident that he will help us drive our agenda of operational and service excellence forward," said CN President and Chief Executive Officer Claude Mongeau in a prepared statement.
CN also announced that Jeff Liepelt will succeed Vena as SVP-southern region. Most recently SVP-eastern region, Liepelt joined the Illinois Central Railroad — which CN acquired in 1999 — in 1978 and later held positions of increasing responsibility at the Class I.
In addition CN announced that SVP of Engineering, Mechanical and Supply Management Sameh Fahmy will retire from CN on March 31. At that time, the three functions under Fahmy's responsibility will report directly to Vena.
"I want to thank Sameh for his loyal service, tireless energy and the significant value he contributed to CN over the 23 years he worked with us," said Mongeau. "I wish him the very best in the next phase of his life."
Meanwhile, Michigan Technological University last week announced that CN has donated $500,000 to its Rail Transportation Program to create the CN Endowed Fellowship in Rail Transportation. CN's total funding for the program now stands at $750,000.
The endowment will provide scholarships and support rail transportation-related projects and research, as well as hardware and software resources for students.
The university provides engineering students a strong knowledge of railroading, and "the talented graduates and interns we have hired from this program in recent years have proven to be valuable assets to our company," said Vena in a prepared statement.
CN's donation marks one of the largest corporate gifts made to Michigan Tech during its "Generations of Discovery" capital campaign. The Class I is a valued partner and the university greatly appreciates its support, said Bill Worek, dean of Michigan Tech's College of Engineering.
"Our students are highly sought after by industry, and the combination of hands-on, discovery-based education, technical backgrounds and leadership abilities make them ideal for the challenges in the rail industry," he said.
The university's Rail Transportation Program includes courses about rail transportation and engineering, and urban rail transit. The university plans to establish a multi-disciplinary certificate in rail transportation and engineering for the program.
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