A Brief History Of The Chemistry Department

by

Carl H. Snyder, Professor of Chemistry


Current segment: 1959-1968 -- A New Program and a New President; A New Home and a New Chair

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1959-1968

A New Program and a New President

The University's Bulletin for the 1959-60 academic year contains a new paragraph that foreshadows the future of both the Chemistry Department and the University itself, doctoral-level graduate research:

Beginning in September, 1959, enrollment may be made by applicants for the Ph.D. degree, with majors in anatomy, biochemistry, chemistry education, marine science, microbiology, pharmacology, physiology, psychology, zoology. Degrees may be conferred beginning in June, 1961.

The first two Ph.D. degrees in chemistry were awarded in 1962 to Earl Brill and Basil Dimitriades, students of Schultz and Keenan respectively. Over 150 would be granted by 2005.

New hiring reflected this new emphasis on doctoral research. The early 1960s saw the arrival of several new Assistant Professors with fresh doctoral degrees from major universities and the promise of excellence in graduate research as well as in classroom teaching:

Carl H. Snyder
Although the addition of six new faculty within three years might have been expected to generate a swift growth in size and in research productivity, the results were disappointing. Like Popp before them, several left shortly after arriving. Both Dever and Vorres were gone by 1964; Guarino and Lillien by 1967. Powell had left by 1971. Of the six, only Snyder spent his entire professional career at the university, retiring in 2006 after 45 years with the Chemistry Department.

It was a transformation of the university itself rather than an influx of new faculty that moved the Department to its next stage of development. On April 18, 1962, the board of trustees chose Henry King Stanford to succeed Jay F. W. Pearson as the University's third president. With abundant energy and a fresh vision for the university, the forty-six-year-old Stanford began making substantial changes, several of which affected the department. In 1964 Stanford brought Armin H. Gropp, a professional chemist and an administrator at the University of Florida, to the University of Miami as Dean of the Graduate School and Professor of Chemistry.

Another 1964 addition to the department was Kaoru Harada, as Assistant Professor of Chemistry. Harada came to the university as a member of the newly formed Institute of Molecular and Cellular Evolution, an institute whose goal was understanding the chemical and biological origins of life. (The Institute was an entity separate from the department itself. Both Gropp and Harada joined the Chemistry Department as a convenient academic home, allowing them to make their major contributions elsewhere in the university. Gropp retired from both the department and the university in 1981.)

Several changes in ranks, titles and duties took place in the mid-60s. By 1963 the radioisotopes laboratory had been abolished; Mills, still Associate Professor of Chemistry, was no longer its director. A year later, 1964, Keenan advanced to the rank of Professor. In 1967 Snyder rose to the rank of Associate Professor. For several years in the mid-60s Delchamps had been listed as Associate Professor of Natural Sciences. In 1968 he returned to the department as Associate Professor of Chemistry.

With a new goal of eminence in graduate research and a new president to lead it, the Stanford years brought profound changes to the university. For the department these included a new home and a new chair.


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A New Home and a New Chair

On his arrival, Stanford recognized that the outmoded, deteriorating facilities of North Campus (the old Anastasia Building) had reached their limit in supporting both research and teaching. With his encouragement plans were completed in 1964 for a new home on the main campus for both chemistry and biology, the Cox Science Center. The following year construction of the modern facility began; it was finished in 1967, in time for fall classes. Chemistry occupied the entire top floor and shared the remaining floors and the basement with Biology.




The Cox Science Center - August, 1978







A Freshman Chemistry Laboratory in the New Building


Meanwhile, Steinbach had been approaching retirement. For six months before the move to the new building a departmental search committee, chaired by Keenan, searched for a new chair. The department chose Clarence G. Stuckwisch, an organic chemist in the Chemistry Department of the State University of New York, Buffalo. On February 1, 1968, Stuckwisch became Professor of Chemistry and Chair of the Chemistry Department at the University of Miami. He immediately began to reshape the department.

Clarence G. Stuckwisch

Current segment: 1959-1968 -- A New Program and a New President; A New Home and a New Chair

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