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William S. Stavropoulos

William S. Stavropoulos

Dow Historical Collection, CHF Collections

  • Born: May 12, 1939, Southampton, New York

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0228
Interview Date: December 14, 2001
Location: Midland, Michigan
Interviewer: James G. Traynham
No. of pages: 25
Sponsor: Society of Chemical Industry
Society of Chemical Industry

  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-nit 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 B.S. in pharmacy. Having received his Ph.D. 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.


1961 B.S., Pharmacy, Fordham University
1966 Ph.D., Medicinal Chemistry, University of Washington

  Professional Experience

Dow Chemical Company

1967 - 1970 Research Chemist, Pharmaceutical Research

Dow Chemical Company

1970 - 1973 Research Chemist, Diagnostics Products

Dow Chemical Company

1973 - 1976 Research Manager, Diagnostics Products

Dow Chemical Company

1976 - 1977 Business Manager, Diagnostics Product

Dow Chemical Company

1977 - 1979 Business Manager, Polyolefins Division

Dow Chemical Company

1979 - 1980 Director of Marketing, Dow U.S.A. Plastics Department

Dow Chemical Company

1980 - 1984 Commercial Vice President, Dow Latin America

Dow Chemical Company

1984 - 1985 President, Dow Latin America

Dow Chemical Company

1985 - 1987 Commercial Vice President, Dow U.S.A. Basics and Hydrocarbons

Dow Chemical Company

1987 - 1990 Group Vice President, Dow U.S.A. Plastics and Hydrocarbons

Dow Chemical Company

1990 - 1991 President, Dow U.S.A.; Vice President

Dow Chemical Company

1991 Member, Board of Directors, Dow Corning Corporation

Dow Chemical Company

1991 - 1993 Executive Vice President

Dow Chemical Company

1993 - 1995 President and Chief Operating Officer

Dow Chemical Company

1995 President and Chief Executive Officer


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

Title and Description Page

Family History and Early Interest in Science 1

Parent's 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 the 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 Ph.D. 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.

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