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From the classroom to the CMU board room

Two retired Dow executives provide leadership for their alma mater

Contact: Heather Smith


​When William Weideman and Sarah Opperman walked Central Michigan University's campus in the mid '70s and early '80s, they were among 16,000 students — not 20,000. Students lived in just 17 residence halls instead of 22, and the Park Library didn't have 33 miles of moving bookshelves.

CMU didn't have a $95 million Biosciences Building under construction, and it didn't have a medical school.

Yet, just like students today, Opperman and Weideman used their CMU education as a launching pad for successful careers. Weideman, '76, and Opperman, '81, landed jobs right out of college with The Dow Chemical Co.

Their careers contributed to what is today a $60 billion global chemical, advanced materials, agrosciences and plastics company based in Midland. The company is the third largest chemical company in the world by revenue.

Opperman retired in 2009 from Dow as vice president of global government affairs and public policy; Weideman retired in 2014 as Dow's executive vice president and chief financial officer.

Today, they both serve on CMU's Board of Trustees. Opperman is the 2016 chair of the board, her second time being elected to the position, and Weideman serves as vice chair. They call it an opportunity to give back to the university that transformed their lives.

"I was very fortunate to attend CMU," Weideman said. "The degree I earned opened numerous opportunities for me, and I built lifelong friendships. Many people before me volunteered their time and talents to make my experience at CMU possible.

Staying engaged in CMU provides me the opportunity to give back so future students will be as fortunate as I was to pursue their dreams."

Opperman and Weideman say the personal involvement of faculty and professional development opportunities gave them a strong foundation when they started their job search.

"The professors and staff set expectations for high integrity and a strong work ethic, while their unwavering support gave me the confidence to continue to learn and contribute throughout my career," Opperman said.

There were many student activities that added to the classroom experience she added.

"I believe the personal values of integrity, honesty, hard work, respect for others and teamwork that I learned growing up and at CMU were instrumental in advancing my career into leadership positions at Dow Chemical," Weideman said. "I hope to use these same values as I serve the students, faculty and staff at CMU as a member of the Board of Trustees."

As Opperman enjoys a 40-plus-year connection with CMU and completes her eight years of service as a trustee, she keeps her sights focused on future Chippewas.

"As a student, I was blessed with faculty and staff who not only were highly qualified in their disciplines, but just as passionate about their students and teaching," Opperman said. "As I complete my last year on the board, I hope to help our next generation of students have similar opportunities to learn, to be both challenged and encouraged, and ultimately, to confidently put their stamp on the world."

About Sarah Opperman

Opperman was appointed to the Board of Trustees by Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2009 for an eight-year term expiring December 31, 2016. A 1981 graduate of CMU, Opperman earned a bachelor’s degree with majors in business and journalism. She is a 2006 inductee to the CMU Journalism Department Hall of Fame. She has served on the university’s Alumni Association Board of Directors, was a member of a fundraising committee for the College of Medicine in Midland and is a member of CMU’s Development Board. She also serves on the board of Isabella Bank Corp., the Midland County United Way, and Mid Michigan Health’s Development Committee and Corporate Advisory Board.

About William Weideman

Weideman was appointed to the Board of Trustees by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2012 for an eight-year term ending December 31, 2020. A 1976 graduate of CMU, Weideman earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He serves on the boards of Olin Corp. and Mid Michigan Medical Health Systems and the College of Business Administration’s Accounting Advisory Committee.


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