Monroe “Jack” Rathbone graduated with honors and a degree in chemical engineering from Lehigh in 1921. He worked for Standard Oil Company in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and was elected president in 1936. He joined Esso Standard Oil in 1944 when the two companies merged, as president. He became director of the parent company, Standard Oil (Exxon), in 1952, was named president, became chief executive officer in the late 1950’s, a position he held until his retirement in 1965. During his last ten years with Exxon, he was credited with making it an international corporation, resulting in recognition from the European business community. He received the rank of Knight Commander, Order of St. Olav of Norway; Commander in the Order of Orange Nassau of the Netherlands; and Commander of the Order of Leopold II of Belgium.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., he was responsible for reorganizing all of Jersey Standard’s domestic operations into one company, Exxon Company, USA. His recognition honors included an award from the Stevens Institute of Technology in 1957, the Gold Medal of Merit from Wharton School in 1962; the API Gold Medal for Achievement, among others. He was also named an original member of Fortune magazine’s Business Hall of Fame in 1975.
Elected president of the Alumni Association in 1948, Rathbone was a member of Lehigh’s Board of Trustees from 1949 until his death, serving as chairman from 1957 until 1973. He received an honorary doctorate from Lehigh, and Rathbone Dining Hall is named in his honor. He established an endowment in International Relations at Lehigh.