Tulane Alumni Association




Distinguished Alumnus/a Award 2009

C. Berdon Lawrence

C. Berdon Lawrence

A native of Lake Charles, La., Berdon Lawrence has been a lifelong friend and supporter of Tulane University. Berdon received his bachelor’s degree from the A. B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane in 1964 and an MBA in 1965. He serves as Chairman of the Board of the Kirby Corporation, a publicly traded NYSE company which provides marine transportation and diesel engine services. The company moves petrochemicals and petroleum products on the inland waterways. Headquartered in Houston, Kirby operates 930 tank barges and 250 towboats and provides employment for over 3,400 people.

Kirby is a major presence along the Gulf Coast and the 12,000 miles of inland waterways that comprise the U.S. Inland Waterway system. Its customers—major oil and chemical companies like Dow, Exxon, Koch, Chevron and BP/Amoco—rely on Kirby to transport feed stocks to refineries and refined products to distribution points.

George A. Rizzo (B ’65), former president of Exxon Chemical Americas, says that Berdon is a throwback to businessmen of an earlier generation. “When he gives you his word, gives you a handshake, he delivers,” Rizzo said. “He’s very personable, very ethical and a very fine businessman who lives by his word. And he’s fun to be with. He’s a delight to work with.” 

At Tulane, Berdon was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity and served as chairman of the business school’s honor board. He was also a member of ODK, a national leadership fraternity. He has served on the Business School Council and the Board of Tulane, was elected to the Paul Tulane Society and was chosen as the Business School’s outstanding alumnus in 1998 and its Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007. Twelve years ago, Berdon and his wife Rolanette began sponsoring the Finance Case Competition at the Freeman School. Business school teams from across the country come to Tulane annually to compete.

His professional affiliations include serving as chairman emeritus of the Waterways Council, past chairman of the Inland Waterways Users Board, past chairman of the National Waterways Conference, past chairman and member of the American Waterways Operators, past chairman and member of the Clean Channel Association, past chairman and member of the Texas Water ways Operators, director of the Houston Maritime Association, past member of the Young Presidents Organization, member of the Texas World Presidents Organization and past board member of Pennzoil Corporation and Cogen Technologies.

Berdon’s community involvement spans the Galveston Bay Foundation, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, The Kinkaid School Board of Trustees, M.D. Anderson Board of Visitors, Baylor College of Medicine Board of Trustees, and the Bone Disease Program of Texas. The Bone Program fosters groundbreaking research and incentivizes young investigators in careers in bone research through the Lawrence Research Awards that were established by the founding donors Rolanette and Berdon Lawrence.

In 2007, Berdon received the River Bell Award from the Seamen’s Church Institute “for his exemplary leadership and dedication to safety and continuing education for mariners within the inland maritime industry.” Berdon and Rolanette have three children: Heather, Mark, and Charles, an MBA graduate of the A. B. Freeman School of Business in 2004.


Alumni Relations, Tulane University, 6319 Willow Street, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5901