Alumni Merit Award: William J. Kroll Jr. (McC67, GMcC71)

More than the methods and formulas he absorbed as a McCormick engineering student, Bill Kroll values the attitudes of his professors: "They taught me to be not only a scholar but more importantly to think and to be a person who cares for others as well." He has carried this lesson with him throughout a 30-year career in which his accomplishments in the industrial gas industry are matched by efforts to extend kindness to others.

Kroll is currently chairperson, president, and CEO of Matheson Tri-Gas, Inc., a leading manufacturer of bulk gas, gas-handling equipment, purification products, and gas detection systems for the food and medical industries. The company also provides engineering services for the compound semiconductor industry. His work to refocus the strategic direction of the firm—particularly to strengthen its activity in the electronics marketing sector—has made it a leader in the field. Under Kroll's direction, Matheson Tri-Gas received recognition as the 2006 Large Company of the Year from the New Jersey Technology Council.

Previously, Kroll was the executive vice president of business development at Emcore, an optical light and electrical energy technology company for high-speed communication infrastructures, where he was key in taking the company public. Among his biggest accomplishments at Emcore are the joint ventures he negotiated with such companies as General Electric, Uniroyal Technology Corporation, and Union Miniere.

He has received numerous honors, including induction into the New Jersey High Tech Hall of Fame in 2004 and placement on the 2006 New Jersey BIZ Top 25 Entrepreneurs list. In 2007, he was appointed by the governor of New Jersey to the commission on outsourcing and off-shoring.

In addition to his Northwestern degrees, Kroll holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business. As a spokesperson for the technical community, he has published more than 50 papers on the subject of physical and chemical vapor deposition for semiconductor technology.

Always keeping in mind the examples set by his Northwestern professors, Kroll is an active volunteer. A former Boy Scout, he now leads Boy Scouts activities, helping the organization in its mission to mentor children. In 2007, he received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award for his commitment to Boy Scouts values.

He also makes "employee charitable activity on company time a priority," as in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; Matheson Tri-Gas' 1800 employees organized fundraisers to help their 24 fellow workers who had lost their homes in the natural disaster.

Kroll now lives in New Jersey with his wife of 41 years, Judy. They have two daughters.