Robert O. Anderson received an AB from the University of Chicago in 1939 and distinguished himself as a creative and successful businessman, a leader in cultural and educational activities, and a citizen with a deep concern for the quality of the environment. His business career brought him to the position of chairman of the board and CEO of Atlantic Richfield Company and to the directorship of a number of important business and financial firms.
Among his many civic, cultural, and educational distinctions, he was chairman of the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, the Business Committee for the Arts, the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, and the Lovelace Foundation. Anderson served as director of Resources for the Future and was a trustee of the California Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago. He also acted as chairman of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
Borrowing $50,000 in 1941, Anderson purchased the faltering Malco Refinery of Artesia, New Mexico, and turned it into one of the largest independent oil producing and refining operations in the country. In the 1960s, he merged his interests with the Atlantic Refining Company, became president and chairman of Atlantic, and moved the company from a lackluster 11th place in the industry to one of the top five. Later, he was instrumental in the merger negotiations with Richfield Oil Company and the formation of Atlantic Richfield.