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Union Carbide Chairman named business leader of the year (Released: 5/6/96)

by Richard Veilleux, Office of University Communic ations.

STORRS, Conn. -- Robert D. Kennedy, who spent 40 years at Union Carbide Corp., the last 10 as chairman and chief executive officer, will be honored May 8 with the University of Connecticut School of Business Administration's Connecticut Business Leader of the Year Award.

Kennedy, who took control of Union Carbide in 1986, brought the company back from the world's worst chemical disaster, when a pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, partly owned by Union Carbide, leaked tons of poisonous gas in 1984. By 1992, Kennedy had managed the divestiture of several of Carbide's holdings, focusing the firm on three core businesses -- chemicals and plastics, industrial gases, and carbon products. By 1994, Union Carbide was the top performer on the Dow Jones list of 30 industrials.

Kennedy will be honored during the business school's fourth annual awards banquet, at the Ethan Allen Inn in Danbury, beginning at 6 p.m. Along with Kennedy, nine graduates of the School of Business Administration will be inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame, and six SBA students will be named Student Hall of Fame Fellows.

Kennedy stepped down as CEO of Union Carbide in 1995, retaining the title of chairman of the board until last December, when he retired. A 1955 graduate of Cornell University, the Danbury resident began his career at Union Carbide at the firm's Niagara Falls operations the same year. By 1963 he had become a product manager for National Carb ide and, after holding several director's level positions in the company's European operations, was named in 1975 as senior vice president for gases, metals and carbons at Union Carbide Europe.

Kennedy returned to the United States in 1977 as president of the corporation's Linde Division; he became a senior vice president in the corporation in 1981; executive vice president in 1982; and president and chief operating officer in 1985. Kennedy is also very involved in the community, serving as chairman of the board of trustees of New Hampton School, a member of the Business Council, a member of the Business Roundtable, and a member of the Chemical Manufacturers Association, of which he is a past chairman. He formerly chaired INROADS Inc., and the Connecticut Business for Education Coalition, which he founded. He also is a past member of the Commission on Education Excellence for Connecticut.

Nine business school alumni who hope to emulate Kennedy's career will also be honored during the banquet, including:

  • David I. Barton, Class of '61, group vice president of Danbury-based Witco Corp., and president and CEO of OSi Specialties, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Witco. He is a resident of Darien;
  • Aldrage B. Cooper Jr., Class of '59, vice president for community relations at Johnson & Johnson Inc. A member of the UConn Foundation Board of Directors, Cooper is chairman of the U.S.-South Africa Business Council and vice chairman of the U.S.-South Africa Business Development Committee. He is a resident of New Brunswick, N.J.;
  • Laura Estes, Class of '78, senior vice president of Aetna Life Insurance and Annuity Co. Recently chosen by BusinessWeek magazine as one of the 50 managers in the country most likely to b ecome a CEO by 2002, she is a resident of West Hartford and serves on the UConn Foundation Board of Directors;
  • Gerald M. Lieberman, Class of '69, senior vice president and chief financial officer for Fidelity Investments in Boston. A CPA, he is a trustee of the Wang Center for the Performing Arts in Boston a nd Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, Mass. He lives in Weston, Mass.;
  • Denis Michael McCarthy, Class of '64, BS, '65, MA, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Fidelity Management Trust of BOSTON. Before moving to Fidelity, McCarthy was president and CEO of Emory Air Freight Corp. in Wilton. He is a member of the Financial Executives Institute and a trustee for the Chapel Hill Chauncey Hall School in Waltham, Mass. He is a resident of Wellesley, Mass.;
  • Walter A. Rhulen, Class of '52, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Frontier Insurance Group Inc. of Rock Hill, N.Y., a holding company that underwrites medical malpractice coverage for physicians and dentists and such high-risk ventures as bungee-jumping, white-water rafting, homeless shelters and methadone clinics. In 1994, Frontier was rated by Forbes magazine as one of the best small companies in the United States. Rhulen is also chairman and president of Electronic Tabulating Corp. in Newburgh, N.Y. He resides in Monticello, N.Y.;
  • Sudhakar V. Shenoy, Class of '71, founder and president of Information Management Consultants Inc., of MacLean, VA., an information and computer support company with $12 million in sales last year. A member of the SBA's Board of Overseers, Shenoy lives in Great Falls, VA.;
  • Louis H. Ulizio, Class of '58, AS, '65, BS, and '66, MBA, executive vice president for commercial banking at People's Bank in Bridgeport. He is former vice chairman and chief lending officer at CityTrust Bancorp Inc. He lives in Wallingford;
  • Charles Prescott Waite, Class of '57, a retired general partner of Greylock Partners and Greylock Management Corp., a venture capital firm in BOSTON. He is a member of the board of directors of several companies, including Lumber Mutual Insurance Co., XOMA Corp., Teltone Corp. and Floating Point Systems Inc. of Portland, Ore.

    Students who will become Student Hall of Fame Fellows are Peter D. Arnold of South Windsor (Hartford MBA program), Eric Bernstein of Manchester (Storrs undergraduate), Robert Clark of Fairfield (Stamford MBA program), Janet S. Grace of Coventry (Hartford EMBA program), Frank Joseph Lorenzi of Greenwich (Stamford EMBA program), and Andrea E. McGrath of Branford (Storrs MBA program). Student fellows are given the opportunity to work with the Alumni Hall of Fame members who have elected to also become Fellows, on a project of the students' choice.

    Students are selected based on their recognition by peers, faculty members and administrators as possessing special qualities, including leadership qualities, high academic ability and involvement in civic and community activities.

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