UMass Amherst Course Counts Fortune 500 Executives Among Its Participants

AMHERST, Mass. - It''s rare to see two Fortune 500 chief executives sharing jokes and professional insights with a class of college students.

More unusual yet would be to imagine it as an academic offering in a university''s chemistry department.

It all comes together, however, in a unique undergraduate course at the University of Massachusetts called, "the Business of Science" offered by recently retired chief executive of the Witco Corporation, William Mahoney (UMass Chemistry ''55).

Mahoney is an adjunct teacher in the UMass Chemistry Department who, after serving as a mentor to several chemistry majors decided to return to his alma mater to share his knowledge and experience as a chemistry major who went on to become a Fortune 500 chief executive.

When Bill Mahoney needs a guest lecturer he calls friends and colleagues such as Robert Kennedy, recently retired chairman and CEO at Union Carbide Corporation to speak about "Crisis Management" or Donald Griffin, chairman and CEO of the Olin Corporation to lecture on "Ethics from Kant to Kindergarten."

Both men spoke this semester to a packed classroom of mostly chemistry majors with a sprinkling of business majors and even a few members of the UMass faculty.

The class has two more guests coming this semester: April 24, Frederick Webber, President and CEO, Chemical Manufacturers Association, talking about "Current Trends in Chemical and Related Industries;" and last youngest brother, Robert M. Mahoney, CEO and president of Citizens Bank in Boston, discussing "Career Planning."

"Anyone wanting a seat should arrive early," cautions Lila Gierasch, chair of the UMass Chemistry Department. "It''s a unique and fascinating course."