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William R. Donley

B.S. Forest Science, 1978

William R. “Bill” Donley earned a B.S. in Forest Science at Penn State in 1978 and an MBA at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz School of Business, where he was the class valedictorian.

He is a retired 31-year senior management veteran with extensive experience in global materials and services businesses.   From October 2005 until retiring in 2010, Bill was president and CEO of Tangent Rail Corporation.  He led management in a buyout of Tangent Rail from the former owner, RailWorks.  Prior to the sale, he was president of RailWorks’ Products and Services Group, a provider of railroad construction products and track maintenance services. 

Prior to joining RailWorks, Bill worked for nearly 20 years with Koppers Company and its spin-off, Koppers Industries, where he gained across-the-board management experience in sales, procurement, operations, strategic planning, and division management.  He was elected corporate vice President in 1995 and was vice president and general manager of Koppers’ Utility and Heavy Construction Division from 1995 to 1998. 

Bill has held leadership positions in several industry associations, including chairman of the American Wood Preservers Institute and the Railway Tie Association.

He is active in his community as a member of the board of directors of the East End Athletic Association, a volunteer organization that supports youth football and lacrosse in Pittsburgh, PA (2000 to present).  He has been involved in coaching high school lacrosse for more than ten years and was honored as WPSLA Assistant Coach of the Year in 2006.

Bill has been involved with our Wood Products program in both research and resident education.  When Wood Products faculty members Judd Michael and Mike Gagnon were collecting data as part of a USDA-funded grant, he was very giving of his time and networks and provided details on his experiences as a successful entrepreneur in a wood-related field.  He has given guest lectures to Penn State undergraduate students (in Wood Products and in Engineering) and has helped to prepare case study materials that our faculty will continue to use with our students in future courses.  

Bill lives in Pittsburgh with his wife Maggie, also a Penn State graduate.  They have three children.  Emma graduated from Penn State in 2009 and was president of the Penn State Lion Ambassadors.  Will is currently a senior at Penn State and a player on Penn State's Men's Lacrosse team.  Peter is a freshman who also plays lacrosse for Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA.