Her company has recalled 2.6 million older small cars to fix the switches, which have been linked to crashes causing at least 13 deaths.
GM has admitted knowing about the problem for more than a decade, yet it didn’t start recalling the cars until February. Barra testified before two congressional committees that she didn’t know about the problem until December.
The recall wasn’t mentioned in a speech, which was released in advance by GM.
But there were several lessons that seemed to apply to her first four months leading the nation’s largest automaker.
“Remember that hope is not a strategy,” she said. “Problems don’t go away when you ignore them — they get bigger.”
Barra also urged the students to be honest in every aspect of their lives, and to use their optimism and propensity for inclusion to rethink outdated assumptions and expose and correct injustice.
She also told them to keep friends and family close to celebrate good times and for support during tough times.
Two university groups objected to the university’s decision to invite Barra to speak.
The Graduate Employees Organization passed a resolution asking the school to rescind the invitation due to the recall. It was supported by the Student Union of Michigan.