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William H. Joyce

William H. Joyce

CHF Collections, Photograph by Douglas Lockard

  • Born: December 15, 1935, Greensburg, Pennsylvania

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0288
Interview Date: August 17, 2004
Location: Nalco Company, Naperville, Illinois
Interviewer: Arnold Thackray
No. of pages: 51

  Abstract of Interview

William H. Joyce begins his interview with a description of his early childhood. As a young man, Joyce was significantly influenced by both his parents, in particular his father, who instilled in Joyce a strong knowledge of business. Throughout his childhood, Joyce was very active, participating in sports such as golf and skiing, but also had a strong interest in chemistry. Very early in his academic career, before high school even, Joyce decided to become a chemical engineer, and, with that in mind, participated in many school science fairs. With a Navy scholarship, Joyce was able to attend college at Penn State University. While at Penn State, Joyce participated in numerous extracurricular activities, but also took his studies very seriously and found his time there quite enjoyable. After graduating, Joyce accepted a position at UnionCarbide as a product development engineer. While at Union Carbide, Joyce received numerous promotions and worked in various capacities, from the R&D side of industry to speech writing for chairmen. Throughout his career at Union Carbide, spanning over forty years, Joyce made several contributions to his field, working to create a new transoceanic telephone cable to the UNIPOL process for creating high-density polyethylene. After a short time at Hercules Incorporated, in 2003, Joyce began to work at Nalco Company, where he continues to use his energy to create new and innovative techniques and products to solve problems in the water treatment and processing chemicals industry. Joyce concludes his interview by discussing current events as related to the chemical industry.


1957 B.S., Chemical Engineering, Pennsylvania State University
1971 M.B.A. New York University
1974 Ph.D. New York University

  Professional Experience

Union Carbide Corporation

1957 - 1968 Product Development Engineer

Union Carbide Corporation

1971 - 1974 Product Manager, Chemical and Plastics Group

Union Carbide Corporation

1974 - 1976 Operations Manager

Union Carbide Corporation

1976 - 1978 Director, Polyolefins Operations

Union Carbide Corporation

1978 - 1979 Vice President, Marketing

Union Carbide Corporation

1979 - 1979 Vice President, Licensing and Technology

Union Carbide Corporation

1982 - 1985 President, Silicones and Urethane Intermediates Division

Union Carbide Corporation

1985 - 1992 President, Polyolefins Division

Union Carbide Corporation

1992 - 2001 Chief Operating Officer

Union Carbide Corporation

1993 - 2001 President

Union Carbide Corporation

1995 - 2001 Chief Executive Officer

Union Carbide Corporation

1996 - 2001 Chairman of the Board

Union Carbide Corporation

2003 - Present Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Hercules Incorporated

2000 - 2003 Chairman and Chief Executive Officer


1993 National Medal of Technology
1994 Industry Achievement Award, Plastics Academy
1997 Lifetime Achievement Award, Plastics Academy
1997 Inducted into the National Academy of Engineering
2003 Perkin Medal, Society of Chemical Industry (American Section)
2003 Chairman, Society of Plastics Industry
2003 Board of Directors, Executive Committee, American Plastics Council
2003 Board of Directors, Executive Committee, American Chemistry Council
2003 Board of Directors, Executive Committee, Society of Chemical Industry
2003 Board of Trustees, University Research Associates
2003 Co-Chair, National Academies Research Roundtable

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Childhood and Early Interest in Science 1

Born in Western Pennsylvania. Influence of father. Raised in Jeannette, Pennsylvania. Interest in chemistry from older brothers. Conducted science experiments in basement. High school experiences and participation in science fairs.

College Experiences 8

Navy scholarship. Chose Penn State over several Ivy League schools. Chemical engineering major. Lived on campus freshman year and at fraternity house following that. Many extracurricular activities including football manager.

Union Carbide 13

Accepted job as Product Development Engineer directly after college. Worked on insulating materials. Electric Boat project. Transoceanic telephone cable. Bell Laboratories. Operate out of New York. Semiconducting polyethylene. Night school at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Stevens Institute of Technology. Promotion to Product Manager of Chemicals and Plastics. Receive M.B.A. Receive Ph.D. Operations Manager. High-density polyethylene.

UNIPOL Process 30

Devised practical methods and solutions for creating high-density polyethylene. Improved wire and cable, as well as a molding material. Reverted cash-flow back into R&D.

Conclusion 34

Philosophy to being successful in a large corporation. Hercules Incorporated. Nalco Company. Technology for water treatment. Thoughts on government and chemical industry with current events.

Index 43

  About the Interviewer

Arnold Thackray

Arnold Thackray founded the Chemical Heritage Foundation and served the organization as president for 25 years. He is currently CHF’s chancellor. Thackray received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history of science from Cambridge University. He has held appointments at Cambridge, Oxford University, and Harvard University, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In 1983 Thackray received the Dexter Award from the American Chemical Society for outstanding contributions to the history of chemistry. He served for more than a quarter century on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the founding chairman of the Department of History and Sociology of Science and is currently the Joseph Priestley Professor Emeritus.

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