Ethan Allen Interiors chairman, CEO Kathwari to deliver WCSU undergraduate commencement address

DANBURY, CONN. — A prominent international businessman based in Danbury will share his global insights with graduates at Western Connecticut State University’s 110th commencement in May.

Farooq Kathwari, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Ethan Allen Interiors Inc., will address the university’s undergraduate degree candidates at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 18, in the Westside Athletic Complex on WestConn’s Westside campus, Lake Avenue Extension in Danbury.
Kathwari has been president of Ethan Allen Interiors since 1985, and chairman and CEO since 1988. In 1989, he formed a group to purchase Ethan Allen and took the company public in 1993. Under Kathwari’s leadership, Ethan Allen has been transformed into a leading manufacturer and retailer of home furnishings in the United States, with its world headquarters located in Danbury.

WestConn President James W. Schmotter said his decision to invite Kathwari to deliver the commencement address was an easy one.

“Farooq Kathwari is one of America’s most successful, thoughtful business leaders,” Schmotter said. “His compelling observations on the nature of globalization and its impact on businesses, society, and individual lives and careers have received acclaim in the United States and abroad. I know he will share this wisdom with our graduates, and I can’t think of a better way to send them out to face the opportunities and challenges that await them in our interconnected 21st-century world.”

Kathwari, who will speak about “Entering a Globalized World: Challenges and Opportunities,” said he is “deeply honored and humbled by this recognition and the opportunity to share my thoughts and experience with the students who will become the leaders of the future. I’m proud of the long-standing support and interaction between Ethan Allen and WestConn, and know that we all benefit from what we learn and share with each other.”

Kathwari received a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and political science from Kashmir University and a Master of Business Administration in international marketing from New York University.

He holds leadership and membership positions in several nonprofit organizations, including: Refugees International, the Kashmir Study Group, the Council on Foreign Relations, the World Conference of Religions for Peace, Freedom House, Henry L. Stimson Center, the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, Dialogues: Islamic World-U.S.-The West at New York University, the Mahatma Gandhi Center for Global Nonviolence Advisory Board, the American Committees on Foreign Relations’ Board of Distinguished Advisors, the National Retail Federation and the American Home Furnishings Alliance.

Kathwari has received several recognitions, including the Outstanding American by Choice Award by the U.S. Government; Spirit of Asian American Award from the Asian American Federation of New York; EPIIC Global Citizenship Award from Tufts University;  Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal;  Honoree from the International Center in New York; National Human Relations Award by the American Jewish Committee; American Muslim Recognition Awards by several organizations; Worth Magazine Recognition of one of 50 Best CEO’s in USA; the National Retail Federation  Gold Medal; the International First Freedom Award from the Council for America’s First Freedom; Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award; and the Anti-Defamation League’s Humanitarian Award.

For more information, call the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.

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