Jones School mourns loss of Bill Arnold

William “Bill” Arnold, a popular professor in the practice of energy management at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business, died Aug. 5 after a battle with gallbladder cancer. He was 75.


Born Oct. 15, 1944, in Woonsocket, Rhode Island — “a textile mill town with a diverse ethnic background that triggered his curiosity about the world,” according to his obituary in the Houston Chronicle — Arnold joined Rice in 2009 following careers in banking, government and energy.

“Anyone who knew Bill immediately felt his warmth, good humor and genuine interest in others,” Rice Business Dean Peter Rodriguez wrote in a message to the school community. “Bill loved his students, loved teaching and Rice, and it always showed. He was a bright presence at Rice Business. I believe he received true joy from teaching the (courses) Geopolitics of Energy, Energy Transitions, Entrepreneurship in International Energy and especially his international energy simulation, which was a wonderful and innovative learning experience.”

One often found Arnold at a table full of students in the Faculty Club lingering over a long lunch, strategizing job prospects or the broader context of current events, Rodriguez recounted. He was also an avid photographer and enjoyed capturing the Rice rugby team, Beer Bike, Rice Business’ Investiture graduation ceremony and Partio parties on McNair Hall’s patio. He had an unfinished novel in his desk drawer and an active Facebook page with pictures of his wife, daughter and grandchildren and natural wonders — birds, bugs, flowers and weather.

“Bill’s professional resume is broad and impressive,” Rodriguez wrote. “While his impact has been deep across the Rice campus, it is the 1,600 students he taught at the business school and his colleagues throughout his career who will remember him most fondly. We are grateful to have had his vibrant spirit for part of that time, and we miss him greatly.”

Arnold, who was Royal Dutch Shell’s Washington, D.C.-based director of international government relations and senior counsel for the Middle East, Latin America and North Africa for 16 years, was a sought-after expert by media on energy industry issues.

“Houston has been the world energy capital for decades because of its concentration of technical, financial and managerial talent,” he wrote in a 2018 op-ed for the Houston Chronicle. “That will be challenged on many fronts, and policymakers and business leaders need to keep a long view of what it will take to strengthen the Houston economy for the next generation of those wanting to earn a high wage, too.”

Arnold is survived by his wife of 49 years, Catherine Anthony Arnold; and daughter Elizabeth Kendall Arnold Dennis and her husband, Richard Hollis Dennis III, and their children Cate, William and Ellen, of Rye, New York.

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.