R. William Jewell, BSCE 1963
Inducted in 2007
Energy has always been important to Bill Jewell. He has certainly put his own considerable supply to good use. He pursued an education in engineering and business, and then became a leading authority on energy use and efficiency. Choosing engineering meant following his father’s career path, although he was never pushed in that direction. Mr. Jewell described his father as “a superb civil engineer and a good man, so trying to follow him seemed a good course.”
Two of his father’s accomplishments were particularly inspiring. He was project manager for Missouri River diversion tunnels as part of the Fort Randall Dam, an achievement that left fourth-grader Bill greatly impressed. A few years later, another project — a tunnel under the Harvey Canal in New Orleans — was equally memorable.
With those inspirations, Bill Jewell enrolled in the University of Kentucky College of Engineering. The family had moved to Lexington from Louisiana after his senior year in high school. UK seemed like it would be a good fit — and it was.
His UK experience was highlighted by foundations and soil mechanics courses taught by Professor Bobby Hardin, as well as a technical writing course with English professor Michael Adelstein. Mr. Jewell earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering in 1963 and sought to broaden his prospects with a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Chicago, which he earned in 1965.
He joined Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Michigan and put both degrees to use as he worked in operational, planning, financial, systems and marketing positions. That led to an opportunity with Dow’s U.S. Area Hydrocarbons and Energy (HC&E) Department as a business analyst. He was named business and financial services manager in 1978 and in 1984 became commercial development director for HC&E. He was an important contributor to small teams of key individuals that negotiated and established several critical projects, including Dow’s coal gasification project with Synfuels Corporation.
Mr. Jewell led teams that planned and launched Dow’s ethylene plant projects in Freeport, Texas and Alberta, Canada. Both plants are still well known for size and efficiency. His success led to his appointment as business director for Dow’s U.S. Area Energy Business in 1992. By the end of 1994, he was overseeing Canadian business as well, and in 1996, he was named business vice president for energy with worldwide responsibilities. He handled large-scale projects and transactions, including the sale of Dow’s refinery in Oyster Creek, Texas. He started and directed Dow’s successful natural gas hedging program, a financial strategy designed to reduce risk in the market.
Mr. Jewell moved Dow’s hydrogen sales from $3 million per year to more than $200 million. He also led the establishment of high efficiency power projects to serve Dow facilities in Texas, Michigan and California, Canada, the Netherlands and Spain. As liquefied natural gas (LNG) gained importance as a prime energy source, Mr. Jewell established relationships and investments in the first new LNG terminal in the United States since the 1980s. The facility, in Freeport, Texas, will begin delivering gas in mid-2007. Dow will be one of two customers for the Freeport terminal over the next 20 years. As the ties with the Freeport terminal were developed, Dow’s Energy Business, under Mr. Jewell’s leadership, launched and led the company’s energy efficiency and conservation program. Capitalizing on opportunities in the Chinese market, Dow called on Mr. Jewell in 2005 to become its vice president, hydrocarbons and energy, for greater China. Based in Shanghai, he launched several major projects for Dow with Chinese and Middle Eastern companies. His career at Dow led him to appreciate the opportunity to do interesting work with people he genuinely liked. The close teamwork on projects often led to lasting friendships. “We visualized and studied the alternatives,” he said. “We scoped the projects and found creative ways to cause them to happen…I loved the teamwork we developed between the operations and technical people and my business group.”
Mr. Jewell has shared his knowledge in other ways. He was a member of a National Petroleum Council group that conducted a study of natural gas; testified on natural gas issues before House subcommittees; was a member of the Governor’s Texas Energy Taskforce; and was a frequent speaker at major energy conferences.
Mr. Jewell retired from Dow in July 2006. He resides in Houston, Texas and Big Fork, Montana and is an active fisherman, hunter, skier, golfer, hiker and reader. He and his wife, Barbara, have two children, Mark and Andrea.