Houston Couple Gives $6 Million to Engineering, Football
“But, most importantly, for this university to continue to grow – this is Texas – and you cannot do it without football.”
Athletic Director Billy Tubbs said Lamar welcomes the Smiths’ generous gift to the football program. “We not only want to start football, but we want to start it in a first-class manner. We’re ready to go, and your contribution is very important.”
Smith first put his chemical engineering degree to work at ARCO refinery in Port Arthur where he had participated in one of Lamar University’s first co-operative education programs. That, he said, “really got me started. It brought the value of education home because you could see how it applied day to day in business.”
He held numerous positions of increasing responsibility in two ARCO divisions and at its corporate headquarters before becoming a vice president of Lyondell Chemical Co. in 1985. Four years later, he was tapped Lyondell’s chief financial officer and executive vice president when the company went public. In 1996 Smith was named president and chief executive officer of Lyondell, one of the world’s largest chemical producers. He was elected chairman of the board in May 2007. Smith retired as president, CEO and chairman of Lyondell on January 31, 2008.
Before Lyondell was acquired by Basell in 2007, it was North America’s third largest, independent, publicly traded chemical company and a global leader in the manufacture of chemicals and polymers, the building blocks of countless products used around the world every day. With headquarters in Houston, Lyondell operated on five continents and employed 11,000 people worldwide.
Smith is presently board chairman of Kraton Polymers, a private company with production facilities in the U.S., Germany, France, The Netherlands, Brazil and Japan. He is also pursing an array of investment opportunities and sharing his talent and time with many worthy causes, officials said.