2020 Honorees

James Lee Davis* (B.S. ’49)

James Lee Davis began his career in the Texas oil and gas business after graduating with a degree in chemical engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 1949.  Mr. Davis worked for Mobil, formerly Magnolia Oil, for 16 years. In 1966 as a registered professional engineer, Mr. Davis founded J. L. Davis Gas Consulting, becoming one of the first independent gas consultants. Over the course of almost 55 years, with Mr. Davis’ attention, intelligence and intuition, the business developed into a successful enterprise. His business interests expanded from core oil and gas consulting and contracting to natural gas transportation and marketing, banking, real estate, and aviation among other pursuits.

Mr. Davis always maintained an interest in improving public school education and donated funds to aid in the construction of a new high school in his hometown of Mart, Texas.  He further invested in a full scholarship each year for a deserving high school student plus other partial university scholarships. As a Texas alumnus, Mr. Davis always felt fortunate for his outstanding opportunity for graduating from the University of Texas and recognized the GI Bill made it possible for a poor boy to succeed.

Mr. Davis died in December 2019, prior to learning of this honor; his family acknowledges the honor afforded him.

Dennis Griffith (B.S. ’70)

Dennis Griffith is a principal project director at Kellogg Brown & Root in the KBR Consulting group, which is KBR’s front end consultancy.  Mr. Griffith graduated with honors from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in chemical engineering in 1970.  He received his M.S. in chemical engineering in 1971 from the University of Michigan, and is a licensed professional engineer.

Over Mr. Griffith’s 50-year career, his duties and functions have evolved from operations with the demilitarization of chemical warfare weapons while he was in the army, to process engineering, and on to project management.  Throughout his career, he has sought to provide innovative strategies that utilize his chemical engineering knowledge.

Growing up with a chemical engineer father who was a classmate of Johnny McKetta, it was natural that Mr. Griffith would go to The University of Texas at Austin and study chemical engineering.  Both of his parents were consummate volunteers, and they instilled in him the importance of leadership while serving others.  While at UT Austin, Mr. Griffith was a member of the Longhorn Band and active in the Student Engineering Council including serving as its treasurer.

After graduating, he continued his volunteering activities.  He served as a director and treasurer of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and was chair of the local Houston section. Mr. Griffith was on the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council for Spring Valley Village, and he was vice chair of the Regional Air Quality and Planning Committee of the Houston-Galveston Area Council.  He is a precinct chair and has served as an election judge. Mr. Griffith was on vestry for his church and continues to be a lay reader there and is an active participant in the Longhorn Alumni Band.

Mr. Griffith and his wife, Louise Richman, have established the “Louise Richman and Dennis Griffith Endowed Scholarship for the Longhorn Band.”  They are also leaving a legacy gift in their wills to the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering.

Dr. Rachel Segalman (B.S. ’98)

Rachel A. Segalman received her B.S. from The University of Texas at Austin and Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Universite Louis Pasteur before joining the faculty of UC Berkeley in 2004 where she was recently the acting division director for materials sciences at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories.

In the summer of 2014, she moved to UC Santa Barbara to be the Kramer Professor of Chemical Engineering and materials and became department chair of chemical engineering in 2015. Dr. Segalman’s group works on controlling the structure and thermodynamics of functional polymers including semiconducting and bioinspired polymers. This has led to a host of new and promising applications, particularly in plastic thermoelectrics.

Among other awards, Dr. Segalman received the 2015 Journal of Polymer Science Innovation Award, the 2012 Dillon Medal from the American Physical Society, she is an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow and a Camille Dreyfus Teacher Scholar, and in 2019 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Pam Tucker (Ph.D. ’88)

Pam Tucker serves as CEO of Utility Composites, Inc, a manufacturing company she co-founded in 1993. Utility Composites makes composite fasteners which are sold world-wide.  Utility Composites’ product line has expanded from fasteners for wood and composites to include fasteners for rubber, and radio frequency identity tracking fasteners, all of which are made in the U.S.  Prior to Utility Composites, Dr. Tucker worked as a product development engineer for 3M company for six years.  She also served for six years as a part-time lecturer for the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering and an adjunct professor for Park College for two years.  She grew up in Kansas and attended McPherson College for liberal arts education before transferring to the University of Oklahoma.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from OU and her masters and doctorate in chemical engineering (polymeric materials) from UT Austin.

She has served as a member and chair of the national Younger Chemists Committee of the American Chemical Society, an officer for the 3M Technical Forum, a member of the OU Engineering Board of Visitors, a member of the Board of Directors of Fixeon, a private company, and, currently, as a member of the University of Oklahoma CBME advisory board, OKChE. In 2017 Dr. Tucker was inducted into the OU College of Engineering Distinguished Graduates Society.  She has mentored several people in entrepreneurship and starting their own business. Dr. Tucker holds more than 20 patents and has published several articles in refereed journals.

Michael Zeglin (B.S. ’79)

As president of the Performance Pipe Division of Chevron Phillips Chemical company (CPChem), Michael Zeglin has autonomous responsibility for the $500 million division headquartered in Plano, Texas. In his role, Mr. Zeglin provides leadership, vision, and strategic direction including safety, environmental, manufacturing, capital and operating budgeting.  In addition, he is responsible for the marketing, technical service, and new product development for the High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Pipe product line. Under his leadership in 2018, the Performance Pipe Division recorded zero Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) injuries and achieved record net income.  In 2019 the Plano office achieved star status in the OSHA Voluntary Protection Program.

Previously, as vice president of Chevron Phillips Qatar LLC, Mr. Zeglin served as the country manager for CPChem. He was responsible for leadership, vision and strategic direction of all operating entities in Qatar, including two manufacturing sites and three operating companies – Q-Chem, Q-Chem II, and the Ras Laffan Olefins Company (RLOC) – and their combined $3.6 billion in assets. His responsibilities included housing, safety, and security for the seconded employees and their families residing in Qatar. He held a dual role as chief operating officer of Q-Chem interfacing with the Chief Executive Office of the operating companies to ensure they uphold CPChem’s standards for operational excellence and meet their expense and earnings targets.

Under his leadership in 2014, the Q-Chem companies had the second lowest combined employee and contractor reps in reserve within CPChem at 0.08, experienced zero process safety events, and returned record dividends of $800 million to their shareholders. In this role, Mr. Zeglin focused on effectively applying CPChem’s Tenets of Operation and safety coaching approach in Qatar’s multi-cultural manufacturing environment to influence personal and process safety.

He also served at SChem in Saudi Arabia as president of Saudi Polymers, president of Jubail Chevron Phillips, and senior vice president of manufacturing from 2007 through 2013.  During this time phase 2 and phase 3 expansions valued at over $8 billion were completed. He was responsible for the commercial sales and operations of Saudi Polymers.

Mr. Zeglin is an avid Longhorn who is active in church, volunteering for service and social ministries including Habitat for Humanity.  He enjoys traveling and spending time with his family in Australia.  Recently, he traveled to Poland to meet relatives. When time allows, he also enjoys playing golf.

* Indicates posthumous honoree.
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