William S. Stavropoulos

Born: May 12, 1939 | Southampton, NY, US
Photograph of William Stavropoulos

William S. Stavropoulos. Dow Historical Collection, CHF Collections

William S. Stavropoulos begins his oral history interview with a discussion of his family, his childhood, and education in Bridgehampton, New York. In 1961, Stavropoulos attended Fordham University, where he received a BS in pharmacy. Having received his PhD in medical chemistry from the University of Washington, Stavropoulos was hired at Dow Chemical as a research chemist. In 1980, he became Commercial Vice President of Dow Latin America. In 1995, Dr. Stavropoulos was named CEO of Dow Chemical Company. Dr. Stavropoulos concludes the interview with his thoughts on winning the American Chemical Industry Medal in 2001. 

Access This Interview

The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.

			

Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0228
No. of pages: 25
Minutes: 105

Interview Sessions

James G. Traynham
14 December 2001
Midland, Michigan

Abstract of Interview

William S. Stavropoulos begins the interview with a discussion of his family's Grecian ancestry. He describes their migration and eventual settlement in the United States. Stavropoulos goes on to recount his childhood and education in the small, tight-knit community of Bridgehampton, New York, where his high school teacher, Robert Smith, sparked his interest in science. In 1961, Stavropoulos attended Fordham University, where he received a BS in pharmacy. Having received his PhD in medical chemistry from the University of Washington, Stavropoulos was hired at Dow Chemical as a research chemist. He remained in Dow Chemical to act as business manager for several departments. Then in 1980, he embarked on the path to becoming the CEO of Dow, beginning with his promotion to Commercial Vice President of Dow Latin America. During that time period, he and his family relocated to Coral Gables, Florida. In 1995, Mr. Stavropoulos was named CEO of Dow Chemical Company. Mr. Stavropoulos concludes the interview with his thoughts on winning the American Chemical Industry Medal in 2001 from the Society of Chemical Industry. 

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1961 Fordham University BS Pharmacy
1966 University of Washington PhD Medicinal Chemistry

Professional Experience

Dow Chemical Company

1967 to 1970
Research Chemist, Pharmaceutical Research
1970 to 1973
Research Chemist, Diagnostics Products
1973 to 1976
Research Manager, Diagnostics Products
1976 to 1977
Business Manager, Diagnostics Product
1977 to 1979
Business Manager, Polyolefins Division
1979 to 1980
Director of Marketing, Dow U.S.A. Plastics Department
1980 to 1984
Commercial Vice President, Dow Latin America
1984 to 1985
President, Dow Latin America
1985 to 1987
Commercial Vice President, Dow U.S.A. Basics and Hydrocarbons
1987 to 1990
Group Vice President, Dow U.S.A. Plastics and Hydrocarbons
1990 to 1991
President, Dow U.S.A.; Vice President
1991 to 1993
Executive Vice President
1993 to 1995
President and Chief Operating Officer
1995 to 2004
President and Chief Executive Officer

Dow Corning Corporation

1991 to 2004
Member, Board of Directors

Honors

Year(s) Award
1995

Man of the Year Award, American Hellenic Education Progressive Association

1997

Man of the Year Award, Hellenic American Bankers Association

1998

Ellis Island Medal of Honor

1998

Honorary Doctor of Laws, Northwood University

1999

CEO of the Year Kavaler Award

2000

Man of the Year Award, Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce

2001

Palladium Medal, Société de Chimie Industrielle

2001

Chemical Industry Medal, Society of Chemical Industry

Table of Contents

Family History and Early Interest in Science
1

Parents' immigration from Greece. Life and school in Long Island, NY. Interest in math and science sparked by teacher, Robert Smith.

College Education
2

Pharmacy at Fordham. Graduate school at the University of Washington. Studying medicinal chemistry under Al Huitric. Encounter with the Dow Chemical Company recruiter.

Career at Dow Chemical Company
5

The move to Dow in Indianapolis. Working with small groups. Named Director of Marketing in plastics, CVP of Dow Latin America and then CVP of Dow USA. Becoming president and CEO of Dow.

The Management Philosophy Realized
12

The importance of change and commitment to research. Major acquisitions and divestments. Accountability and responsibility. The triple bottom-line theory.

Conclusion
18

Thoughts on winning the Society of Chemical Industry Award. Reflection on Greece and family as focal points in life.

Notes
22
Index
23

About the Interviewer

James G. Traynham

James G. Traynham is a professor of chemistry at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. He holds a PhD in organic chemistry from Northwestern University. He joined Louisiana State University in 1953 and served as chemistry department chairperson from 1968 to 1973. He was chairman of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1988 and is currently councilor of the Baton Rouge section of the American Chemical Society. He was a member of the American Chemical Society’s Joint-Board Council on Chemistry and Public Affairs, as well as a member of the Society’s Committees on Science, Chemical Education, and Organic Chemistry Nomenclature. He has written over 90 publications, including a book on organic nomenclature and a book on the history of organic chemistry.