LSU Senior Adam Grashoff Receives Inaugural Sean O’Keefe Leadership Award

Sean O'Keefe Leadership AwardBATON ROUGE – During the Katrina & Rita: A Decade of Research & Response Symposium on Friday, Aug. 28, LSU awarded senior Adam Grashoff, a native of Mandeville, La., the inaugural Sean O’Keefe Leadership Award. O’Keefe, who was on-hand for the event, presented the $10,000 cash award to Grashoff, an accounting major planning to graduate in May 2016.

The Sean O’Keefe Leadership Award was created by LSU donors who recognized the leadership in former LSU Chancellor Sean O’Keefe during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The award is designed to recognize and reward the outstanding LSU undergraduate student leader who has demonstrated exceptional leadership in the past and possesses the character, capability, vision and motivation to be a leader in the future.

“It is such an honor to even be considered for an award like this,” Grashoff said. “I could not be in this position without the help of my family and friends. They have truly shown me what it means to be a leader.”

This is the inaugural year of what will be an annual award of $10,000 cash to be used at the discretion of the recipient. The nominees were selected from the elected presidential posts from various student leadership positions. Criteria for the award also included a cumulative grade point average of at least a 2.75 of 4.00.

Nominees submitted two essays – a biographical summary of their leadership positions with any relevant activities in their life since high school graduation and an essay on the subject, “My Leadership Philosophy,” which articulates the nominee’s leadership principles and how the candidate has tried to live up to those ideals.

In his leadership philosophy essay, Grashoff defined leadership as “a quality someone possesses that proves they strive to do what is best for everyone involved. It is being able to empower others to not only work together, but to want to do something great. It is being the example people look to when they need to know how to act. It is about being able to take the blame and be accountable for not only yourself, but others as well, and at the same time be able to stand back and let others take the credit for a job well done.”

A five-member selection panel made up of members of the business and LSU communities conducted personal interviews with each nominee to get to know them better and learn more about each nominee’s past and future leadership experience.

About Sean O’Keefe

O’Keefe is a longtime public administrator, national security expert and aerospace industry executive who has served in several top leadership positions in the U.S. government, higher education and industry. 

O’Keefe is the former chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Airbus Group Inc. Immediately prior to joining Airbus, O’Keefe served as a vice president of the General Electric Company, following his service as chancellor of LSU. 

O’Keefe has been credited for establishing the university’s first campus-wide fundraising campaign “Forever LSU Campaign,” raising $798 million. He became popular among students for interacting with them, especially during periodic “Chats with the Chancellor” across the campus throughout the semesters and because of his encouraging emails. 

O’Keefe led LSU during its response to Hurricane Katrina in August and September 2005, when the campus was transformed into what has been called “the largest acute-care field hospital established in a contingency in the nation’s history.”

On four separate occasions, O’Keefe served as a presidential appointee. Prior to leading LSU, he was administrator of NASA. Earlier, he was deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget at the White House. He also served as secretary of the Navy, following service as comptroller and CFO of the Defense Department. 

O’Keefe began his career after graduate studies at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University as a member of the inaugural class of the Presidential Management Fellowship program, and later joined the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee staff. Between public service appointments, O’Keefe has held faculty posts at LSU, Penn State University and the Maxwell School, where he served as director of the National Security Studies Program and as Louis A. Bantle Chair of Business and Government.

In 1993, President Bush and Secretary Cheney presented O’Keefe with the Distinguished Public Service Award. He was the 1999 faculty recipient of the Syracuse University Chancellor’s Award for Public Service; recipient of the Department of Navy’s Public Service Award in December 2000 and has been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from several prestigious educational institutions. In March 2003 and 2004, he was recognized and honored by Irish America Magazine as one of the Top 100 Irish Americans.



Contact Ernie Ballard
LSU Media Relations