Thomas R. Voss, retired CEO of Ameren and a member of the University of Missouri System Board of Curators, spoke about the importance of safety, diversity and thinking every day during commencement ceremonies at Missouri University of Science and Technology on Saturday, Dec. 17.
In his commencement address, Voss told graduates that he is thankful for the education he received at Missouri S&T and the friends he made, but that he is most thankful for learning how to think.
“Sure, we all learned math,” Voss said. “We learned stats, physics, engineering and so many other things; and my education has served me well. But this school taught me to think and gave me the discipline to stop and think every day.
“You are about to take on the world,” Voss said. “You will build great buildings and better machines and write algorithms that will be amazing, but please do yourself one favor. Every day, every single day, set aside 10 minutes to simply think. Think about what you’re doing. Think about why you’re doing it. Think about what the world needs. And think about how you can make the world a better place.”
Voss told graduates that safety and diversity have been two of his top priorities.
“As Missouri S&T graduates, our job often is to make systems run better or more efficiently, but ultimately our job is to make the world a safer place,” Voss said. “Safety should be the No. 1 priority in everything you do.”
Voss also said that diversity makes all of us better.
“We need diversity because the world is changing, and the pace of change is only increasing,” Voss said. “Diversity makes all of us better. Diverse thinking takes courage, but it brings better solutions. Wherever life takes you, please work hard to support diversity.”
Voss was appointed to the UM System Board of Curators in 2016 by Gov. Jay Nixon. He was elected chair of Smart Wires in 2014 after retiring as chair, president and chief executive officer of Ameren.
He began his career with Union Electric (now doing business as Ameren Missouri) in 1969 as an engineer, after earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Missouri S&T. During his 45-year career, he held numerous positions, including distribution operating manager, vice president for AmerenCIPS, senior vice president for energy delivery and customer services, senior vice president for generation, executive vice president, and chief operating officer, before becoming chair, president and CEO in 2009.
While employed with Ameren, Voss joined the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and served on active duty from 1969 to 1973. As a distinguished graduate of Officer Training School he became a commissioned officer. He held various engineering positions at the Aerospace Guidance and Metrology Center in Newark, Ohio, including liaison project manager between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the USAF on an inertial guidance gyro improvement program. In addition, he managed an engineering laboratory during his service.
Voss is a registered professional engineer in Missouri and Illinois, as well as a licensed electrical contractor in St. Louis and St. Louis County. Voss has been a member of IEEE (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) for more than 45 years. In 2011, he received the National Society of Professional Engineers’ Distinguished Service Award. He has also earned a U.S. Air Force Commendation Medal.
Voss received an Award of Professional Distinction in electrical engineering from S&T. He completed the Public Utility Executive Program at the University of Michigan Business School, the Westinghouse Advanced School in Power Systems Engineering accredited by Penn State University and Nuclear Reactor Training at MIT.
Voss serves on several St. Louis-area civic and arts organizations and currently serves as chair of Grand Center Inc., chair emeritus on the Dance St. Louis board of directors and a director for the Muny. He has been a champion of safety and diversity both within and beyond Ameren.