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‘Maleficent’ Screenwriter, GE Digital CEO Addressing Class of 2017

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Two Cal State Fullerton alumni recognized in their respective fields are returning to their alma mater as Commencement 2017’s keynote speakers.

Screenwriter, playwright and novelist Linda Woolverton, who gained fame for such screenplays as “Beauty and the Beast,” will address the graduates and candidates at the Saturday, May 20, celebration, while Bill Ruh, who leads as chief executive officer of GE Digital, will speak before the those taking part in the Sunday, May 21, ceremonies. About 70,000 are expected on campus for Commencement 2017 festivities.

Linda Woolverton

Linda Woolverton began her career by writing scripts for Saturday morning animated television shows. This eventually led her to writing her first animated feature, Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” Upon its release in 1991, the blockbuster won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy/Musical and became the first animated film to be nominated by for a Best Picture Academy Award.

Woolverton was then hired to write the screenplay for “The Lion King” for which she shares screenplay credit. She rewrote the script for “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey,” as well as contributed to the animated feature “Mulan.”

“Alice Through the Looking Glass” and “Maleficent,” – See more at:

She went on to adapt the script of “Beauty and the Beast” for the Broadway stage and received the Tony Award nomination for Best Book Based on a Musical in 1994, as well as the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical in the U.K. “Beauty and the Beast” ran in New York between 1994 and 2007, becoming the sixth-longest running show in Broadway history.

Woolverton also wrote the book for Elton John and Tim Rice’s musical “Aida,” which ran for five years at the Palace Theatre.

In 2008, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Writers Guild of America-Animation Writers Caucus for her longtime work in the field of animation.  

The Titan alumna wrote the script for “Alice In Wonderland,” directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp, which was released in March 2010 and grossed more than $1 billion worldwide. She then went on to write the screenplay for Disney’s “Maleficent” starring Angelina Jolie. The film, released in May 2014, became a worldwide success.

A 1979 master of arts in theater arts graduate, Woolverton is currently writing a sequel to “Maleficent” and has been engaged to write and produce an animated fantasy that will launch a feature animation division for Skydance Media.

Bill Ruh

In addition to serving as GE Digital’s chief executive officer, Bill Ruh is senior vice president and chief digital officer (CDO) for GE. GE Digital, the industrial software subsidiary of General Electric, is re-imaging industry’s infrastructure by connecting software, apps and analytics to industrial businesses, enabling them to operate faster, smarter and more efficiently.

As CDO, Ruh is responsible for global information technology, as well as creating GE’s Digital Thread — a next-generation system for streamlining design, manufacturing and support processes.

Ruh joined GE in 2011 to establish its industrial internet strategy and to lead the convergence of the physical and digital worlds within GE globally. In this role, he focused on building advanced software and analytics capabilities, while driving global strategy, operations and the portfolio of software services across all of GE’s businesses.

During his tenure, Ruh has led the charge to develop the first cloud-based platform for the industrial world. He also played an instrumental role in establishing the Industrial Internet Consortium by bringing together government, academia and industry leaders to set standards, best practices and processes for the Industrial Internet.

Prior to joining GE, Ruh was vice president at Cisco, where he had global responsibility for developing advanced services and solutions. A 30-year veteran of the software and internet industries, Ruh has held executive management positions at Software AG Inc., The Advisory Board, The MITRE Corp. and Concept 5 Technologies. In addition, he is an accomplished author and a frequent speaker on such topics as emerging business models, cloud computing, analytics, the industrial internet and digital transformation. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science from Cal State Fullerton.

The commencement ceremonies begin at 8 a.m. each day on the Cal State Fullerton campus at 800 N. State College Blvd. The University ceremonies with the keynote speakers are open to the public and held outdoors on the athletics fields.