Alum recognized for decades of dedication
Attending The Ohio State University was a life-changing experience for alumnus Bill Lowrie—one that inspired him to pursue a successful 33-year career in the oil and gas industry.
“Ohio State changed my life. I wound up pursuing a career that I never thought about and never probably would have had the opportunity to do if I’d gone to another university,” he said. “I got a great education.”
Motivated by Professor H.C. “Slip” Slider’s petroleum engineering courses, Lowrie joined Amoco in 1966 after graduating from Ohio State with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. He worked his way through the ranks, ultimately becoming deputy CEO of BP Amoco.
Throughout his demanding career and beyond, Lowrie has remained a steadfast supporter of his alma mater, particularly the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, which carries his name.
“Bill Lowrie vowed to give back to others in the way he felt he had received and he kept his word,” Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Chair Andre Palmer said. “His dedication to service has literally transformed our department and the lives of thousands of students and alumni.”
In recognition of his exemplary involvement and personal investment in fundraising efforts at Ohio State, Lowrie was recently awarded the university’s 2017 John B. Gerlach, Sr. Development Volunteer Award.
His record of university service spans decades. Since the early ’80s, he has provided leadership on a variety of Ohio State committees in addition to generous financial contributions. He served on the Chemical Engineering Advisory Committee (1980-1998), Dean’s Advisory Council (1990-1998), and the National Committee for the New Koffolt Laboratories, and he is currently a member of the university’s Foundation Board of Directors.
In 2009, Lowrie and his wife Ernestine made a transformative $17 million gift to support the construction of the Koffolt Laboratories in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry (CBEC) Building, a professorship, an endowed chair, and enhancement of education and research initiatives.
“We’re very grateful to the alumni for making this building a reality,” Palmer said at the CBEC building grand opening in April 2015. “In fact, we would not be here celebrating today if Bill Lowrie had not brought to us his inspiration and dedication to create a new home for Koffolt Laboratories.”
Now that chemical and biomolecular engineering has a new state-of-the-art home, Lowrie has noticed a renewed spirit among the Buckeye engineers who study and work there.
“You can sense the excitement, not only of the students, but of the faculty and graduate students,” Lowrie said. “It’s because they’ve got just a terrific place to learn, study, do research and get their degree. That was really important to me that we get that done.”
As part of his 2009 gift, the H.C. "Slip" Slider Professorship was established for an untenured faculty member in chemical and biomolecular engineering. The position honors the esteemed professor who inspired him to pursue his chosen career and became a close friend.
By providing funding for a new faculty member to establish his/her research program, the professorship has already helped attract rising stars to the College of Engineering.
“As it turned out, and I’m extremely proud of this, the two people that have held the professorship—Jessica Winter and Lisa Hall—are outstanding people that we probably would not have gotten to Ohio State had it not been for that professorship,” Lowrie reflected.
For his decades of dedication, Lowrie has received numerous accolades, including The Ohio State University Everett D. Reese Medal (2004), Ohio State University Distinguished Service Award (2014), the Alumni Association’s Alumni Medalist Award (2008) and the college’s highest honor—the Benjamin G. Lamme Meritorious Achievement Medal (1992).
Given the university’s continued upward trajectory, he finds it easy to stay engaged with his alma mater. “When you see people getting things done, moving in the right direction, growing in stature and producing an excellent product, it’s easy to get behind it and want to be a part of it.”
A member of the Ohio State Foundation board since 1997, Lowrie is encouraged by the progress he’s seen in the university over the past two decades, from the many new and refurbished buildings to its rising international reputation as a research and education powerhouse.
“The most exciting thing I’ve seen in a long time is this tremendous growth, in the broadest definition of the term, of Ohio State in the last 20 to 25 years,” he said.
These days Lowrie has a new reason to smile when he comes back to campus. His granddaughter, Raychel, began her undergraduate studies at Ohio State this fall. While he’s extremely pleased she decided to become a Buckeye, doing so was entirely her decision.
“I only laid down one very firm rule with my granddaughter and that was, she could go anywhere she wanted as long as she didn’t go into the state of Michigan,” he shared. “I know she’s going to get a very good education and she’ll be well taken care of.”
While he didn’t pressure Raychel to follow in his footsteps by attending his alma mater, his unwavering commitment to the university has always been clear.
“I think she has a very significant appreciation for how I feel about the university, [the chemical and biomolecular engineering] department particularly,” Lowrie said. “I think she’s quite impressed with that.”