Oral history interview with Edgar S. Woolard Jr.
Edgar Woolard begins the interview with a description of his family and childhood years in Washington, North Carolina. Woolard's parents encouraged him to excel in both academic and social environments. As a high-school student, Woolard held an interest in mathematics. After graduation, Woolard enrolled in North Carolina State University as a nuclear engineering major. Woolard enjoyed college life and was involved in several extra-curricular activities, including serving as house manager for his fraternity. In his junior year, he switched his major to industrial engineering and received his BS in this field in 1956. Shortly after graduating from NC State, Woolard married his junior-high-school sweetheart and accepted a position at Alcoa in Maryville, Tennessee. Woolard left Alcoa after one year to serve a six-month term in the US Army. Upon his return, he was offered a job at DuPont in industrial engineering. After two years, he was promoted into management as a supervisor, a position that Woolard relished. He quickly rose through the ranks at DuPont, gaining valuable learning experiences from each promotion. Woolard entered DuPont's Planning Division in 1976, where he oversaw many breakthroughs in DuPont polymers, especially Dacron production. Throughout his career, Woolard helped shape DuPont into a more streamlined and environmentally friendly company. In the late 1970s, DuPont responded to a spike in oil prices and high inflation by reducing senior management and combining departments. In 1983, under DuPont's new system, Woolard was given responsibility for three departments: Agricultural Chemicals Division, Medical Division, and Photo Products Division. He served in that capacity for three years before becoming Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer. Woolard became CEO in 1987 and worked to both streamline and evenly downsize DuPont for the good of the company. Although this period was difficult, his efforts proved successful for both DuPont and its employees. For his earnest reorganization of DuPont, Woolard received the Chemical Industry Medal in 1998. Woolard concluded the interview with a discussion of DuPont's major achievements during his career, retirement, and thoughts on his family.
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