Ralph Tillman Ferrell

Ralph Ferrell

B.S. Ch.E. 1961, Ph.D. Ch.E. 1966
Vista Chemical Company (Retired), Houston, TX

Dr. Ralph T. Ferrell’s success in chemical engineering is matched by a passion for sharing the fruits of that success through the furtherance of education.  Indeed, he calls education a “priority one” issue.

Ralph began his career in the chemical industry as an engineer with Conoco Research and Development, Ponca City, OK, shortly after receiving his doctorate.  Over the next eight years, he received several patents related to detergent processing and high-purity catalytic alumina production.  He switched his focus from research and development to manufacturing in 1974, taking the post of plant manager of Conoco”s chemical plant in Oklahoma City.  Four years there was followed by stints as manager of Conoco’s chemical plants in Baltimore, MD and Lake Charles, LA; and later as manager of Conoco’s chemical operations Louisiana-wide.

In 1984, he joined the newly-incorporated Vista Chemical Company, and in 1986 moved to the position of Vice President of Manufacturing.  At Vista—a Fortune 500 commodity and specialty chemical firm with a combined workforce of 1,600 and $900 million in annual sales—Ralph rose to Senior VP for Corporate Development in 1988.  Between 1988 and 1993, he oversaw Vista’s Research, Engineering and Strategic Planning divisions.  Since retiring from Vista in 1993, he has worked as an independent venture capitalist and consultant, including membership on the Board of Directors of the First State Bank of North Texas.

Dr. Ferrell is a native of Navarro County, Texas, and a graduate of Blooming Grove High School and Navarro College, both of which have named him a distinguished graduate.  He is married to his teenage sweetheart, the former Reba Daniel.  After retirement from Vista, Ralph and Reba relocated to Plano, Texas, to be closer to their daughter and her family.

The Ferrells have paid tribute to the College of Engineering through endowed graduate fellowships, through benefactor support of the McKetta Challenge in Chemical Engineering Excellence, and through financial recruiting efforts in Plano.  Their profound commitment to education is further demonstrated through scholarship funding at Blooming Grove High School and support to Navarro College.

Ralph was a member of the Chemical Engineering Department Visiting Committee from 1990-93 and chaired the committee in 1992-93.  He holds current membership in The University’s Littlefield Society, President’s Associates, and Ex-Students Legends.

OYEG Honorees

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