Wilsdorf Hall 201F


Ron Unnerstall retired from BP in 2017 following a varied career in the Oil and Gas Industry spanning over 34 years. His career was predominately in Refining and Marketing, including 24 years in oil refineries across four locations, and other executive assignments in Chicago, London and Shanghai.

Ron held several senior executive leadership roles during his career, including plant manager, global business head, and global functional head. In 2006, he was appointed the Refinery Manager for BP’s Toledo Refinery (in Ohio), and later as CEO of a newly formed Joint Venture between BP and Husky Energy where over a five-year period he led a transformation of the business from bottom to top quartile performance. He then assumed the role of CEO for BP’s Global Acetyls business based in China, the #1 supplier across the globe for industrial acetic acid with sales over 2.5m tonnes produced across seven manufacturing sites. In 2012, Ron returned to Refining to lead BP’s global Refining Technology & Engineering group, and later assumed the role of BP Group Head of Engineering, retiring in 2017.

He spent most of his career involved in the direct operations and leadership of oil refineries, where he learned first-hand the difficult challenges associated with operating in a high hazard industry. As a result, Ron dedicated most of his career to, and built a reputation for, strong safety leadership and building organizations that support operational excellence, learning, and continuous improvement. He brings this passion, and deep experience to this course.

Ron was the 2019 Halsey Professor. The Halsey professorship recognizes an individual of broad and practical experience making an impact on the education, scholarship and professional development of students in an academic institution of the highest quality and exceptional traditions. These one or two semester appointments by the University Board of Visitors has been endowed by a generous grant from the James River Corporation in honor of one of its founders upon his retirement.

The Halsey Professor has principal responsibility for a limited-enrollment, School-wide, senior-level course that focuses on themes of human values and practices in technical business and industry. It is to complement the current educational programs and personal growth experiences of professional level engineering students.

Ron holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University and a M.S. in Management from Stanford University. Ron has been awarded the Purdue University Outstanding Chemical Engineer Award, and the Purdue Distinguished Alumnus award from the School of Engineering.