Although romantic chemistry brought Michael, Chem’78, and Debbie Haynes together as students, it was analytical and synthetic chemistry that defined their careers. Michael was a junior chemistry major at Missouri S&T when he met Debbie on a weekend trip to Columbia, where she was majoring in recreational therapy. Debbie began coming to Rolla for party weekends. “I was what they called an ‘import’ in those days,” she says.
His senior year, Michael had five interviews and three job offers. “It was a good time to be a Rolla graduate,” he says. He joined the Dow Chemical Co. and moved to Freeport, Texas. Debbie headed south when she graduated in 1979. “I followed the love of my life to Texas,” she says. When job prospects proved slim, Debbie went back to school, earning an associate’s degree in chemical technology from Brazosport College and a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Houston.
They both worked for Dow as chemists, Debbie in polymer research and Michael as an analytical chemist and lab supervisor. After 11 years in Freeport, they transferred to Indianapolis to work for a new joint venture between Dow and Eli Lilly. They both moved into leadership roles in quality assurance compliance.
“One of the achievements I’m proudest of was working to blend the two company cultures into one,” says Michael. “I also led the process to obtain our ISO 9000 certification, which was a big deal in the chemical industry.” For Debbie, it was field trial compliance audits on agricultural chemicals. “I worked with contractors in some very rural places,” she says. “I grew up on my grandfather’s 80-acre farm, so I could talk to and work with ag-contractors as a team member not a company ‘overlord.’”
Michael retired from Dow in 2002 after 24 years. Debbie had already left corporate life to help on her family farm north of St. Louis and start a small produce business. After retiring, Michael pursued a non-chemical interest: assembling, testing and repairing equipment for the local John Deere dealership. He worked full time at the dealership until 2017.
Over the years, the Hayneses have remained passionate S&T supporters. Michael serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the College of Arts, Sciences, and Business, and the couple has attended every almost OGS Weekend since they joined in 2001. They are also generous contributors to many university initiatives including the renovation of Schrenk Hall and the Miner Match scholarship program.
“I made more my first year of working than I paid for my entire education,” says Michael. “We have both been very fortunate and blessed. With Dow’s matching gift program, we were able to double our impact. And with the Miner Match, we can double it again.”