R. J. Claassen II ’87
B.S. in Chemistry
1st Student Regent 1985-86 (the term changed to two years in 1986)
- What is your current job title and what are your duties?
I am the Global Operations and Baytown Technology and Engineering Center Site Manager for ExxonMobil Chemical, and I’m responsible for managing all of the operations for our technology centers. In Operations we provide support for the research efforts spanning from technicians that work in the laboratories to the construction and operation of pilot plants. We have four technology centers, Baytown (suburb of Houston); Brussels, Belgium; Bangalore, India; and Shanghai, China that provide support for all aspects of research and development for ExxonMobil Chemical, including new process and product development, application development for our products and customer support.
- Talk about your student experience at Missouri Western.
I had lot of fun at Missouri Western. I had the chance to be involved in various activities that strengthened both my academic knowledge as well as my leadership skills. As a chemistry major I spent a lot of time in the chemistry department and in labs. We had a solid faculty team that really cared about their students and a very active Alchemist Club. We had a lot of fun and worked pretty hard too. Missouri Western gave me a great education and set me up to succeed in my graduate work and in life.
- How did Missouri Western prepare you for your career?
Missouri Western gave me a solid base that prepared me well for graduate school. I worked with professors that were excited about teaching and worked hard to connect with the students. They also brought in a lot of practical, real-life examples that helped us see how what we were studying connected with the real world.
- Talk about your experience as a student regent/governor; what stands out?
It was a great experience. I had been involved in student government as a student senator since my freshman year, and it was a chance for me to gain a lot of understanding about how things run and what goes into managing a college. All of the regents were great to work with and were happy to share their knowledge and experience. Dr. Janet Murphy was the president at the time, and the college was really beginning to grow.
- Talk about your family.
I have been married to Emily for 30 years, and we have three children: Caroline, who graduated from Texas Tech in Lubbock and is in the Occupational Therapy Graduate Program at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas; Rob, who is studying physics and astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin; and Ellen, who is in high school.
What was the last book you read? “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry,” by Neil deGrasse Tyson, a recommendation from my son. I think he is hoping I’ll pick up on some of the lingo …
What is your favorite app? TripCase, it organizes travel info and integrates with airlines to give you updates on flight changes, etc.
What is your favorite movie? “Top Gun,” followed closely by “Apollo 13.”
What would your autobiography be called? Can’t believe anyone would waste their time writing about me, including me. How about, “Things I Still Have to Do.”
What do you like to do in your spare time? I enjoy spending time with my family and working in the yard.
Editor’s note: If you were a former Student Regent or Student Governor, I’d love to hear from you! Contact me at email@example.com to be a part of this series!