University of Missouri-Rolla graduate Zebulun (Zeb) Nash, manager of ExxonMobil Chemical’s plant in Baytown, Texas, will deliver UMR’s winter commencement address and receive an honorary doctorate during ceremonies at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, in Gale Bullman Multi-Purpose Building, 10th Street and Bishop Avenue.
Richard Vitek, retired chair and chief executive officer of FOTODYNE, will also receive an honorary doctorate from UMR.
Nash earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at UMR in 1972. A past president of the MSM-UMR Alumni Association, Nash has also served the association’s board of directors as vice president, president-elect and chair of the Annual Fund Committee.
Nash graduated from Berkeley Senior High in St. Louis. After earning his bachelor’s degree at UMR, he earned a master’s of business administration degree from the University of Washington in 1976. From 1976-1978, Nash served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya. He started his career with Exxon in 1979.
Nash, who was awarded an honorary professional degree in chemical engineering by UMR in 2003, is a past member of the UMR Board of Trustees and the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on African American Recruitment. Among other distinctions, he belongs to the Academy of Chemical Engineers, is a member of UMR’s Order of the Golden Shillelagh, and is an Honorary Knight of St. Patrick. A member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Nash was active in Blue Key, intercollegiate wrestling and the Interfraternity Council while at UMR. He later established and still supports the Georgia Mae Smith Nash Endowed Scholarship, which benefits chemical engineering students with a preference for minorities.
In 2003, Nash was the first freshmen convocation speaker at UMR. Zeb and Harriet Nash have three children, Robert, Barbara and Theo.
Vitek, immediate past president of the UMR Board of Trustees, has six patents and the discovery of two new chemical compounds to his name. He earned a master’s degree in chemistry from UMR in 1958. His bachelor’s degree was earned in 1956 at Albion College.
After graduating from UMR, Vitek worked for the Atomic Energy Commission on the production of uranium from ore. He then joined Allied Chemical Corp., where he worked on solid oxidizers for U.S. rockets and missiles. In 1978, he created Vitek Research Inc., V-Tech Corp. and FOTODYNE, all based in New Berlin, Wis. The companies manufacture technology for the photographic supply industry as well as for medial and electronic industries. In 2002, Vitek retired as chair and CEO of FOTODYNE, which was the first company to manufacture laboratory instruments for DNA research.
Vitek, who also worked as an analytical chemistry instructor during his career, has published research in numerous scientific journals. He was awarded an honorary professional degree in chemistry from UMR in 1994, became a member of the Order of the Golden Shillelagh in 1995 and received the Alumni Achievement Award in 1998.
Vitek serves on the advisory board to UMR’s Foundation for Chemical Research. He has also served on the board of directors of LaBelle Industries, on the board of directors of the Waukesha County Economic Development Corp., on the business advisory board of the First Bank of Milwaukee and on the board of advisors for Marquette University’s biology department. His other interests include the Milwaukee Florentine Opera Co. and Opera America.
Last spring, Dick and Marilyn Vitek established a chair in the UMR department of chemistry. The Viteks now live in Dana Point, Calif.