Richard A. Hazleton

For his outstanding career in the chemical-manufacturing business and his demonstrated excellence as an engineer, business manager, and executive, the Schools of Engineering are proud to present the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award to Richard A. Hazleton.

President and Chief Executive Officer
Dow Corning Corporation
BSChE '64, MSChE '66

Hazleton bust

On his Purdue education

I had decided to study chemical engineering fairly early in my high school days. I knew I wanted to go into science or engineering, and high school chemistry locked it down for me. I came to Purdue with a clear direction in mind. Even then I saw myself eventually working for a technology-based company associated with chemical engineering and materials technology.

Thirty years ago, chemical engineering was a relatively small, compact school at Purdue, so you got to know all the professors. It's an indication of the quality of the faculty that no one really stood out-all my professors were solid, creative people with differences in style and personality. My chemical engineering classes were challenging and enjoyable. Then-as I suspect is still the case-because engineering was so challenging, there was not a lot of room for nontechnical coursework.

My Purdue experience has been valuable for me in two ways. First, the kind of knowledge I gained from the coursework, the chemical engineering part of the education, has clearly been valuable. It still is valuable in my current position, because I can understand what our business is and what the technology issues and challenges are. Even more important, though, has been the kind of thought process-the logical, analytical way of looking at problems and dealing with situations-that I received in my engineering education.


I would advise engineering students at Purdue to take advantage of the opportunities to build thought processes and learning abilities. What I saw 30 years ago at the university and is more true now is that the world is changing very quickly-so the most important thing is to learn to learn. I came out of Purdue with a solid education that served me well in analytical processes. I have learned to build on that with a growing sense of how to put it together.

Young Hazleton bust

On student life and leadership

As a student I was very focused on my studies-and in the last three years, on my future wife, Mary Lou, who was studying speech and hearing therapy. There wasn't time for much else. Student government was very important to me, though. I started out getting involved in dorms and worked up to the campus level, and I was fortunate enough to be elected vice president of the student body my senior year. At that time-before Vietnam-student government was inwardly focused. We worried about day-to-day issues like office space for campus organizations in the student union. (We were a little more substantive than just the number of chairs, but not a lot more.) But it gave me an interest in the process of how government works that later struck a natural chord in me and became important in my career. You have to be interested and engaged in the world around you to be a leader. Since my student days, I've become by interest and necessity more engaged, more interested, and more involved in things going on in the outside world, and more concerned with how they affect me and my company.

On the value of education

Anybody who has come through Purdue with a solid education should have an appreciation of the value of a quality education. Not to minimize our other problems, but I believe that's the greatest challenge facing our society at this time. If somebody gave me the power to solve the country's problems by snapping my fingers, I would improve the primary and secondary educational systems because I think that that would lead to solutions to a lot of our other problems. Those with the advantages of education must engage in society as professionals, parents, and citizens.

President and CEO of Dow Corning. Has reorganized company's business structure and developed new strategic directions, including a joint venture with Kaiser Aerospace.
President of Dow Corning Europe, based in Brussels, Belgium. Moved organization from hierarchical to team-based structure.
General manager of Dow Corning's Fluids, Resins, and Process Industries Business.
Corporate vice president.
U.S. Area vice president and director of manufacturing and engineering, overseeing worldwide manufacturing facilities.
Manager of Midland plant.
Completed Harvard's Advanced Management Program.
Corporate controller.
Manager of planning and evaluation for company's European Area, based in Brussels. Became area vice president and finance director within five years.
Process engineer, Dow Corning Corp.

BSChE '64, MSChE '66, Purdue; MBA '72, Central Michigan University.