Chief Chemist, Retired
CLASS OF 1965
Richard “Dick” Crosbie proves that life’s journey is not always straightforward. Indeed, his diverse interests have led him in many directions during his career. Crosbie came to Washington & Jefferson College as an aspiring doctor. However, he found his true calling in philosophy and chemistry, and eventually made his mark as a globe-trotting chemist in the athletic footwear industry.
As a philosophy major, Crosbie vividly recalls Dr. Thoms, head of the philosophy department, who continually challenged him in his studies. Crosbie remembers fiercely defending a paper in front of the class for nearly an hour after tirelessly writing a proof of the existence of God. The active encouragement and obvious concern of the professors at W&J is what Crosbie values most to this day.
After graduating from W&J, Crosbie entered the army and fought in the Vietnam War. Setting himself apart as a leader, he became an army officer. When Crosbie returned home from Vietnam, he embarked upon another path. Turning to the knowledge of chemistry he gained at W&J, he became a chemist in the consumer products division at Uniroyal.
The experience he gained at Uniroyal eventually led him to work for Nike, where he was named chief chemist during the company’s early days. He remained a valued employee at Nike for 21 years, 14 of which were spent overseas. He put his wide-ranging abilities to use around the world, especially in South Korea, where he spent five years learning the language and adapting to the local culture. During this time, Crosbie worked diligently to improve Nike’s quality assurance and environmental record for its manufacturing processes. Even in retirement, Crosbie contributes to the shoe industry through his consulting firm. Today, he is one of most internationally respected experts in the chemistry of running shoes and a leader in “green” shoe manufacturing.
“Keep your mind open,” says Crosbie. “Don’t let yourself be limited by tunnel vision, because you never know what possibilities may open up out there on the periphery.”