The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

UI alumnus named new BP CEO

British Petroleum announced Tuesday that it will replace CEO Tony Hayward in October with Robert Dudley, a University of Illinois alumnus.

Raised in Hattiesburg, Miss., Dudley — now 54 — pursued a degree in chemical engineering at the University, according to a BP press release. Edmund Seebauer, head of the chemical and biomolecular engineering department, said the department revels in Dudley’s success.

“Mr. Dudley earned a bachelor’s degree from our program in 1978, and we’re delighted to see that he’s using his Illinois education to lead BP at this difficult time. We wish him well,” Seebauer said.

He went on to receive a master’s degree in international management at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Ariz., according to the press release. The University of Illinois Foundation chose not to comment on whether Dudley has donated to the University since his departure.

Joe Halliday, a Phi Kappa Psi fraternity brother of Dudley’s, said Dudley’s successful future was evident in his years at the University.

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“The instant you met him, you knew he was destined for a great purpose. He was confident, yet humble and down to earth,” Halliday said in an e-mail.

Halliday, who first attended the University in 1975, recalled Dudley spending much of his time studying and mentoring the men in their fraternity, including himself.

“I usually saw him returning from studying around 10 p.m. with many heavy books. I was also in engineering and he would encourage me to stick with it, even though physics and thermodynamics were particularly demanding,” he said. “He was like that to everyone, encouraging and sincerely interested in hearing what you had to say.”

In accordance with Halliday’s predictions for Dudley’s bright future, BP has found him to be the best fit as the company’s new CEO. After the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the board of directors agreed it would be best for the company to start fresh with a new leader who will take charge in October, according to the press release. Since Dudley has spent many years in BP’s particular scope of expertise, the company said he is a good match for the position.

“We are highly fortunate to have a successor of the calibre of Bob Dudley who has spent his working life in the oil industry both in the U.S. and overseas and has proved himself a robust operator in the toughest circumstances,” said Carl-Henric Svanberg, chairman of BP, in the press release.

Although BP thinks highly of Dudley, mixed opinions exist among the public about the new appointment.

Jeff Buck, certification specialist in the College of Education, said he thinks the change in leadership might just be for show. He said he is not sure if “he’s going to do anything.”

“My suspicion is that it’s just a PR thing,” Buck said.

On the other hand, geology professor Steve Marshak thinks appointing a new leader was a good move by BP, considering the handling of the oil spill in the past three months.

“My feeling is that BP did not deal with the oil leak as they should have,” Marshak said. “They cut corners, and when that happens, it’s a good idea to switch leadership.”

Marshak added that from what he’s heard about Dudley’s qualifications, the first American CEO of BP appears credible so far.

Prior to this appointment, Dudley served as a U.S.-based executive director for BP. As he hands his former position to Lamar McKay, chairman and president of BP America, Dudley has high hopes for the future.

“I do not underestimate the nature of the task ahead, but the company is financially robust with an enviable portfolio of assets and professional teams that are among the best in the industry. I believe this combination — allied to clear, strategic direction — will put BP on the road to recovery,” Dudley said in the press release.

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