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The Faculty

The Chemistry Department first occupied the top floor of Eliot Hall, Reed’s first academic building. The space consisted of "one small lecture room, very limited library space and no faculty research space. Further, skylights were the source of most of the light (and heat)." William Conger Morgan was the first and only professor and one of the founding Reed faculty, offering a full curriculum to a relatively small number of students. The first chemistry theses were presented by two members of Reed’s first graduating class, Laura Kelly and Kenneth C. Tomlinson, in 1915 and a total of eight students graduated with Morgan before his departure to found the Chemistry Department at UCLA in 1920.

The first expansion of the faculty took place in the following year with the arrival of Professor Ralph K. Strong, an industrial chemist from Yale, and Imo Baughman, who was hired as an instructor. The Department did not grow over the following 10 years, but following Strong’s departure in 1933, and a short period of service by Keith Seymour, Arthur F. Scott returned to a teaching position at Reed (he had replaced Baughman for three years, 1923-1926, but soon left for Rice University). With Scott’s return came a period of changes in staffing and curriculum. The resulting chemistry program would be familiar to anyone associated with the college in the past 50 years.

Scott is, without question, the seminal figure in the Department’s history. Trained as an analytical/inorganic chemist, over the years he taught virtually every course in the curriculum, supervised numerous theses, instituted a post-doctoral program in radiobiology that ran from 1948 until 1960, founded the Reed Reactor Facility, attained prominence in national education circles through his service with the NSF, and served as acting president of Reed from 1942-45, as well as the Provost of the Oregon Graduate Institute (from 1969-1971, while remaining affiliated with Reed). The totality of Scott’s service spanned 1923-26 and from 1937 until his death in 1982.

The early Scott era saw the hiring of Leland Pence (organic chemist, 1939-45) Fred Ayres (physical chemist, 1940-70), Joseph Bunnett (Reed '42, organic chemist, 1946-52), Arthur Livermore (Reed '40, biochemist, 1948-65), Marsh Cronyn (Reed '40, organic chemist 1952-present), John Hancock (organic chemist, 1956-1989), Fred Tabbutt (physical chemist, 1957-70) and Michael Litt (physical and biochemist, 1958-66). By the early 1960's, there were five full time faculty positions in the Department, shared among eight individuals. Some faculty had joint appointments with other departments on campus (Jane Shell taught in Math and Chemistry from 1960-1964) and others had significant off-campus commitments. By this time, the core faculty established an unsurpassed research program in a liberal arts environment. Beyond the large number of active faculty, there were numerous graduate assistants, research assistants and research associates employed by the Department. In the mid-fifties, seven assistants and associated were listed in the Reed College Catalog, including several post-doctoral fellows.

By the late 1960’s, however, the departure of several tenured faculty led to turnover in departmental staffing. Arthur Livermore, the biochemist, had a strong interest in improving science education beyond the boundaries of Reed. By 1957, he had obtained grant money from the National Science Foundation to began an in-service program for high school teachers taught by Reed faculty that was part of an effort to raise the level of science instruction nationally. He left in 1965 to become the head of the education department of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Mike Litt joined the faculty of the Oregon Health Sciences University, and established an active research program. Fred Tabbutt departed in 1970 to help found the Chemistry Department at Evergreen State University.

During this period Tom Dunne (1963-present) joined the Department as an inorganic/physical chemist, as did William Weir (1967-84), also a physical chemist. At one point, in the late 60's, there were no fewer than four faculty members with credentials as physical chemists. This in part reflected the Chemistry Department's service towards two interdisciplinary courses with the physics department and also an approach to staffing that made faculty excellence the highest priority, and discipline a secondary concern.

In the 1970's the staffing level in the Chemistry Department remained at five full time positions, despite the addition of a Director for the Reactor Facility (occupied in succession by three radiochemists: Curt Keedy, Larry Church, and Michael Kay). The period from 1970 to 1984 also saw many talented teacher/researchers pass through the Department, but only a handful of the nine new faculty hired between 1960 and 1980 (excluding visiting positions) stayed as long as six years. However, by the late 1980's the College, with Marsh Cronyn as provost, had begun to boost support for new faculty, and generous start up funds, coupled with junior sabbatical opportunities and vigorous institutional support for extramural grant proposals rekindled the Department.

The current department faculty includes Ron McClard (biochemist, 1984-), Dan Gerrity (physical chemist, 1987-), Arthur Glasfeld (biochemist, 1989-), Alan Shusterman (organic chemist, 1989-), Pat McDougal (organic chemist, 1990-) and Margret Geselbracht (inorganic/materials chemist, 1993-) and reflects a complete turnover within a period of 10 years. Glasfeld's hiring in 1989 was achieved by the creation of a new post in biochemistry, facilitated by then-Provost Marsh Cronyn. In 1989 the non-majors science course, Natural Science (Nat Sci), had seen steadily falling enrollment for years. Cronyn saw a way to rejuvenate the Nat Sci course by returning half of it to the jurisdiction of the Chemistry Department (which had originally been involved in the course starting in the early 1950's). This justified the hire of an additional faculty member, also equalizing the number of faculty in Chemistry and Physics at six each. The Reactor Director is currently Stephen Frantz, whose training is in nuclear engineering, and while the reactor facility continues to support the Department's teaching and research, it has developed greater autonomy in the last decade.

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