Former President and CEO of Lowe’s Shares Insights with UMO Students 

Former President and CEO of Lowe’s Shares Insights with UMO Students 

October 18, 2022 

Contact: Rhonda Jessup, Director of Public Relations   

MOUNT OLIVE- Former CEO and President of Lowe’s Robert L. Tillman, namesake of the Robert L. Tillman School of Business, recently visited the University of Mount Olive to share insights on the economy and business.  

Senior Business Management Major, Ella Pierce, introduced Tillman and provided a brief background of his achievements and job roles. Pierce says, “It was an honor and privilege to be able to introduce Mr. Tillman and share a bit about his prestigious role and success with Lowe’s.” 

Pierce noted that, Tillman joined Lowe’s as an entry-level employee in 1962. He then worked his way up in the company becoming Manager of the Wilmington location, Senior Vice President of Merchandising and Marketing, and Executive Vice President of Merchandising.  In 1996, Tillman assumed the role of President and CEO, implementing his vision for the expansion of Lowe’s Companies from a regional hardware store to a nationwide chain with locations in most states. While Mr. Tillman retired in 2005, he continues to play a pivotal role in the lives of UMO students and the Tillman School of Business.  

According to the Dean of the Tillman School of Business Dr. Kathy Best, it is not uncommon for Mr. Tillman to speak with multiple student groups during a visit to campus. “Bob, as he is fondly known at UMO, continually encourages students to work diligently and to develop a work ethic that will sustain them throughout their careers and lives,” she said. 

Students asked Tillman a variety of thought-provoking questions. One inquired of him, “Since the business school bears your name, how would you want people to describe it?” Mr. Tillman answered by saying, “It is so important that this school provide educated people who can help eastern NC with opportunities of growth. This is essential. The great thing about being educated at UMO is that most of the students, like you, will be working for businesses or owning your own businesses somewhere in this part of the world. This is what we want to happen. In addition, we would hope to instill in students a sense of values, a moral compass, while allowing them to find their passion for their career. Remember: If you love what you do, then you’ll never work a day in your life!” 

Tillman also visited the UMO Flight School, toured the airport, and met with aviation and business management students, as well as Instructors Jeff Jennings and Gary Whaley. After having lunch with representative students from each Tillman School of Business major, his day at UMO ended with an interview by business major, Macy Parkhurst. “Mr. Tillman’s lecture was very informative,” said Miss Parkhurst.  “His words of wisdom served as a source of inspiration for our Tillman School of Business students, as we strive to learn and be successful in this ever-changing, ever-challenging world of business.” 

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University is sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists. For more information, visit