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Robert A. Roland

  • Born: January 14, 1931, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Died: January 31, 2013, Alexandria, Virginia

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0138
Interview Date: March 14, 1995
Location: Chemical Manufacturers Association, Washington, D.C.
Interviewer: James J. Bohning
No. of pages: 52
Sponsor: Society of Chemical Industry
Society of Chemical Industry

  Abstract of Interview

The interview begins with Robert Roland describing his family background and early years in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, and the influence of his Catholic grade school and high school education. Next follows a brief account of Roland's years at Villanova University and the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, where Dean Jefferson B. Fordham played a strong role as Roland's mentor. The interview also examines Roland's career in the U.S. Navy, where his eventual experience as General Counsel and Contract Administrator influenced his professional views and development. The central portion of the interview focuses on Roland's appointment as president of the Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA), the conditions under which he accepted that position, and the changes he made there. The interview emphasizes Roland's influence in making the CMA the focal point for the chemical industry in the U.S. and abroad, and his role in developing the industry's standards for safety, health, the environment, and management training, particularly CAER and Responsible Care. The closing discussion focuses on Roland's views on the industry's future, CMA's role and status, and his professional accomplishments and retirement.


1952 B.S., Economics, Villanova University
1955 LL.B. University of Pennsylvania

  Professional Experience

United States Navy

1955 - 1957 Ensign, U.S.S. Stribling, (DO867), Destroyer Fleet Atlantic

Contract Administration, General Stores Supply Office

1957 - 1959 Lieutenant Jr. Grade

National Paint and Coatings Association (NPCA)

1959 - 1961 Representative

National Paint and Coatings Association (NPCA)

1961 - 1971 Executive Vice President

National Paint and Coatings Association (NPCA)

1971 - 1978 President

Chemical Manufacturers Association

1978 - 1993 President


1994 International Medal, Society of Chemical Industry

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Childhood and Early Education 1

Family background. Father's business. Grade school and high school education. Academics and athletics at West Catholic High School.

College and Law School 5

Business major at Villanova University. University of Pennsylvania School of Law and influence of Dean Jefferson B. Fordham. Work with Fordham on American Bar Association Municipal Law Service Letter.

U.S. Navy 10

Boot camp and Supply Corps School. Ensign, U.S.S. Stribling. Motion sickness and transfer to Naval Defense Counsel position. Contract Administration, General Stores Supply Office. Influence of experience in management and defending AWOL cases.

Making Changes at Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA) 15

Views on recruitment and fostering creativity. Importance of physical and professional environment and member involvement. Change of name from MCA (Manufacturing Chemists Association) to CMA. Handling of Love Canal incident and need for uniting chemical industry.

Leadership and Training at CMA 23

John Henske and Paul Oreffice as CMA leaders. Environmental movement and subsequent CMA training program. Importance of CMA as focal point for industry. George Sella as CMA chair; Superfund. Creation of budgeting system.

CMA and Global Chemical Industry 28

Impact of incident in Bhopal, India. CMA and proactive advocacy, reaction toward regulatory activity. Creation of CAER, Community Awareness Emergency Response, and the professional performance standards of Responsible Care. Media's impact.

Final Views and Comments 37

Views on criteria for sucess in industry. Dealing with regulations. Roles of gut instincts and morality. CMA public relations campaign. NAFTA and International Counsel of Chemical Associations, (ICCA). Work at National Paint and Coatings Association. Society of Chemical Industry International Medal, personal accomplishments. Retirement. Status of CMA.

Notes 46

Index 47

  About the Interviewer

James J. Bohning

James J. Bohning is professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he was a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and has presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was the foundation’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. He is currently a visiting research scientist and CESAR Fellow at Lehigh University. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society.

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