The inaugural class of Academy honorees includes 71 Texas ChE alumni, all of whom have been recognized as Distinguished Engineering Graduates by the Cockrell School of Engineering. Honorees are organized by decade of their earliest graduation year, then alphabetically by last name. (*deceased)
Dr. David C. Bonner is a leading authority on polymer engineering and technology commercialization, with long experience in petrochemicals, rubber, plastics and specialty chemicals.
Dr. Bonner followed his master’s degree at UT with a 1972 doctorate from the University of California-Berkeley, and soon accepted a position as assistant professor of chemical engineering at Texas Tech University. Four years later, he moved on to the Texas A & M University faculty as associate professor of chemical engineering.
In 1977, he joined Shell Oil Company, remaining for nine years in various positions. He subsequently served as vice president for research and development of the B.F. Goodrich Company; senior vice president and Chief Technical Officer of Ohio-based Premix, Inc, a major developer/manufacturer of thermoset composite molding compounds; and senior vice president of technology and engineering for The Westlake Group of Houston prior to taking his current post at Rohm and Haas in 1999. His career has included technology group management, engineering group management, and business unit responsibilities.
He has worked tirelessly to further engineering education through development activities. A longstanding, active member of UT’s Engineering Foundation Advisory Council and Friend of Alec, he also sits on the chemical engineering advisory committees of Rice (as chair), Vanderbilt and Virginia Commonwealth universities and the University of California-Berkeley; and the advancement council of the University of Akron College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering.
Dr. Bonner has served on the National Academy of Engineering’s Commission on Environmental Metrics and the National Research Council’s Board of Chemical Sciences and Technology. He is an advisor to the Commission on Natural and Life Sciences of the National Academy of Sciences and an at-large member of the National Institute of Science and Technology’s Oversight Board.
He holds the rank of Colonel of the State of Kentucky, in recognition of outstanding service to the state while an officer of the B.F. Goodrich Company.
Peter R. Buenz (B.S. ’60)
After three years as an officer in the U.S. Navy and seven years with ARCO Chemical Company, Peter Buenz joined a non-engineer fraternity brother in 1970 to establish Chemical Exchange Industries, the forerunner of Creekside Industries. Their business model was to purchase processing facilities no longer needed by major chemical companies and adapt them to produce specialty and commodity products using innovative processes. Buenz amicably split the business with his partner in 1993, and his share became Creekside.
Creekside Industries is headquartered in Houston, but its plants in Baytown and Houston were sold in 2012 and 2013. Both continue in full operation under the new ownership.
Buenz and his wife, Claire, are strong supporters of the department, establishing several endowed scholarships and maintaining a keen interest in the department’s programs. Buenz has been a member and president of the Texas ChE External Advisory Committee and was a member of the Cockrell School’s Engineering Advisory Board.
Dr. Ramsey W. Farley* (B.S. ’60, Ph.D. ’65)
Ramsey Farley, an alumnus of both Texas ChE’s undergraduate and doctoral programs, studied surface tension gradients and the dynamics of an interface.
After graduation, Dr. Farley enjoyed a career as a leader in research, exploration, and production technology at Exxon, Getty Oil, and finally Chevron/Texaco as Director of International Technology, retiring in 1995. In 1993, he was recognized as a Distinguished Engineering Graduate of the Cockrell School of Engineering.
Ramsey was very active with his family, church and in the communities he lived. He married his Temple High School sweetheart Eva Vrba, who went on to become Mrs. University of Texas in 1959. He has three children and four grandchildren. He was a member of St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church, an active Rotarian and Paul Harris Fellow, a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Fourth Degree. An avid Longhorn, he was also a lifetime member of Texas Exes and a Friend of Alec.
Dr. Ralph T. Ferrell (B.S. ’61, Ph.D. ’66)
After receiving both his undergraduate and doctoral degrees from the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, Ralph Ferrell began his career with Conoco Research and Development where he received several patents related to detergent processing and production of high-purity catalytic alumina (auto emissions control). In 1974, Dr. Ferrell switched his focus from research and development to manufacturing, becoming manager of Conoco’s chemical plant in Oklahoma City. He progressed thru manufacturing managerial positions to become General Manager of Conoco Chemicals Louisiana operations.
In 1984, Dr. Ferrell joined a management team to form Vista Chemical Company. Vista was a Fortune 500 commodity and specialty chemical company created via a leveraged buyout of Conoco’s international chemical operations. At Vista, Dr. Ferrell held the positons of Vice President of Manufacturing and later Senior Vice President, Corporate Development. In the latter role, he oversaw Vista’s Research and Development, Engineering, and Strategic Planning functions. After retiring from Vista, Dr. Ferrell and his wife, Reba, relocated to Plano, Texas to be closer to family. Post retirement, Ralph pursued consultant and investment opportunities, including venture capital.
Dr. Ferrell served as a member and president of the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering Visiting Committee and as a member of the Cockrell School Advisory Board. The Ferrells have paid tribute to the Cockrell School through funding for naming of the Biomedical Engineering Learning Resource Center, an endowed graduate fellowship, benefactor support of the McKetta Challenge in Chemical Engineering Excellence, support of the Challenge for McKetta, and are lifetime members of Friends of Alec. They further support The University as endowed members of the Presidents Associates and Chancellors Council, an endowed undergraduate scholarship in Reba’s honor administered by the Texas Exes and are Legends members of the Exes.
The Ferrells are avid travelers, having visited all seven continents and more than 120 countries. They began a Longhorn legacy. Their daughter, Lisa, and son-in-law, Chris Bacic are UT alumni. Their grandson, Daniel, and granddaughter, Kelsey, will become Longhorn alumni in 2018 and 2021, respectively.
Dr. Robert A. Hermes (B.S. ’62)
Dr. Robert Hermes has had a major impact on the global refining industry as a leading consultant for the downstream petroleum industry for more than 30 years.
His accolades began as an undergraduate at Texas ChE. He was a member of several honor societies on campus, and received an outstanding student award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He completed a chemical engineering doctorate at the University of Minnesota in 1965, and spent several years at Mobil Oil Corp. before entering the consulting field.
Soon after, he joined Purvin & Gertz., which provides technical and other advice to the oil and gas industry. Hermes worked his way up from a consulting position to managing the company’s London office. He then served as company president and CEO from 1987 to 1999, and chairman of Purvin & Gertz from 2000 to 2004.
The Houstonite doubled the consulting company’s staff during his executive tenure and oversaw its expansion into China and other countries. The company’s international reach also allowed him to serve as an advisor on energy policy for the United States, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and more than a dozen other countries.
After retiring, he served on the boards of public companies Murphy Oil Corporation and Murphy USA, Inc. for 17 years. He also is a member of the boards of Urban Harvest, a Houston non-profit that encourages growing local food and Montana Conservation Corps, a non-profit that does stewardship projects on public lands using AmeriCorps and local student volunteers. He and his wife of 51 years, Carol spend summers at their home in Montana.
While he began his career as a chemical engineer for the DuPont Company, Dr. William J. Koros has spent the major portion of his professional life in higher education.
After a few years in industry, Dr. Koros returned to UT Austin to complete his Ph.D., then taught at North Carolina State University from 1977 to 1984. He returned to The University in 1984 as a professor, and became recognized throughout his career for both his teaching and research. In 1990 he received the College of Engineering’s highest teaching award, and his research in membranes was recognized first by the National Science Foundation through a Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1984 and this year through his election to membership in the National Academy of Engineering. His innovations in new materials and membrane structures for the separation of mixed gases include the separation of nitrogen from air. This process is being used to reduce the need for refrigeration for the storage of fruits and vegetables, which last longer at higher temperatures and ripen more slowly in a nitrogen-rich environment.
From 1991 to 1993, Dr. Koros served as associate chairman of Texas ChE, then chairman from 1993 to 1997. As chairman, Dr. Koros guided the department as it enlisted alumni and industry to honor emeritus faculty member John McKetta. The McKetta Challenge raised $2.5 million to endow initiatives in chemical engineering teaching and research.
Dr. Koros was the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Membrane Science, a 4,000-page, international journal. He’s held leadership roles in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and the North American Membrane Society. He has over 200 published and refereed articles and five patents.
Dr. J. Winston Porter (B.S. ’60)
After receiving his bachelor degree from Texas ChE, Winston Porter earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University at California, Berkeley in 1965. Porter chaired the University of Petroleum and Minerals chemistry department in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia from 1965 to 1966, then managed the Bechtel Organization’s environmental department and later served as project manager for the master plan of the $20 billion Jubail Industrial City in Saudi Arabia. He also served as a vice president of several Bechtel affiliates in the Middle East.
In 1976, Dr. Porter created the management and engineering consulting firm of Porter & Associates in Leesburg, Virginia, specializing in environmental issues, regional planning, and Middle Eastern business consulting.
In 1985, he was appointed by President Reagan as assistant administrator for solid waste and emergency response at the Environmental Protection Agency, where he managed the Superfund and other solid and hazardous waste programs. He established a national goal for recycling 25 percent of the country’s municipal solid wastes, which was reached in 1995. Under his direction, a joint EPA-state mechanism was developed to remediate federal facilities such as nuclear weapon sites.
Dr. Porter became president of the Waste Policy Center in Leesburg, Virginia in 1989. He is also a frequent communicator on environmental issues through reports and speeches as well as op-ed articles in major newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. He has written about American and European waste management, federal facilities site remediation, and changes needed to reduce Superfund cleanup times dramatically. Since 1985, he has also testified at some 60 Congressional hearings.
Dr. Porter is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Chemical Society, and Tau Beta Pi. He has also served on the Texas ChE External Advisory Council and is a Friend of Alec.
R. R. Rothwell* (B.S. ’62)
Ruel Richard Rothwell Jr. began his collegiate career at East Texas State in Commerce, TX. Academically, he excelled beyond his peers and transferred to UT Austin after two years at East Texas State. While at UT Austin, he was a member of Tau Beta Pi, Omega Chi Epsilon, Alpha Chi Sigma and Lambda Upsilon. He received a Cabot Carbon Scholarship and was president of the UT student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
Following graduation, Dr. Rothwell worked as a plant engineer for Humble Oil & Refining. He then went to work for Northern Natural Gas/Northern Petrochemical for four years, where he was project manager for the design and construction of an ethylene oxide and glycol plant. He spent five years as vice president at APCO Oil Company, where he served as chairman of the Refining/Marketing/Supply Operating Committee. He worked in Indonesia for Roy Huffington, Inc., where he successfully negotiated with Japanese Utilities for the financing of a liquefied natural gas plant.
In 1976, Dr. Rothwell founded Horizon Resources and began trading wet barrels of crude oil. The company quickly grew under his direction, and eventually expanded into oil and gas exploration, futures trading and ranching. Under his guidance, Horizon discovered more than 285 billion cubic feet of natural gas and more than 20 million barrels of crude oil.
From 1995 to 1997, Dr. Rothwell co-chaired the McKetta Challenge to raise money for Texas ChE. He later established the Dick Rothwell Endowed Chair in Chemical Engineering and the Dick Rothwell Endowed Scholarship. He was also on the Foundation Board at Texas A&M Commerce, formally East Texas State, and was a generous donor to the Tejas/Sig Ep Endowment.
Dr. Rothwell loved youth sports and coaching his sons and grandson. He loved hunting and fishing, running, collecting wine and art, and watching UT football.
Bill L. Stanley (B.S. ’61)
After graduating from UT Austin in 1961, Stanley joined Diamond Alkali Co. and worked as a process engineer in Houston for three years. In 1964, he joined Houston Research Institute, a consulting firm, doing design engineering for the process industry.
Stanley then formed Ventech Engineers Inc. in 1967 by creating a new business model to recycle process instrumentation. Over the years, Stanley guided the growth of Ventech, which is headquartered in Pasadena, Texas and operates offices in Manila and Moscow.
Ventech, along with several subsidiaries, builds modular refineries, handles surplus process equipment, relocates gas and oil processing plants, as well as does engineering and plant design work. The company is currently building refineries on an international basis and has built the first American modular oil refineries supplied to Russia, Indonesia, Nigeria and Iraq. Although the company is currently being managed by Stanley’s sons, he still actively participates in the business as a director.
Stanley’s hobbies include a passion for UT football, traveling with his family and spending time on his cattle ranch near Schulenburg or hunting ranch near Laredo.
Bill married Alvern (Gartman) Stanley who graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 1962 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Together, they have five children and eight grandchildren.