Alumni - Letter from the chair Jan. 2011

Letter From The Department Chair

Department of Chemistry

Newman and Wolfrom Laboratory
100 West 18th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210-1185
November 2008


Dear Alumni and Friends,

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the Season of Light, it was the Season of Darkness, it was the Spring of hope….” So wrote Dickens in his opening lines of “A Tale of Two Cities”, and so in many ways it is today.

Our opportunities and our challenges have never seemed greater! Chemistry at OSU has a proud tradition, one of the founding departments in the University. Its role within the university, and indeed the nation, has steadily grown and we now teach more undergraduate credit hours than any university in this country. Our faculty, students, and alumni continue to garner national awards which testify to the impact of our program, and in this issue you will read of some of this.

The departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry plan to merge to form the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. At the same time, we are in the program planning stage of a new building known as CBEC for short, but standing for Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry. This building is a replacement for the Koffolt and Evans Laboratories, and will soon proceed to the schematic design phase, and then construction, with its planned occupancy date of late 2014. The site of this new building is where Johnston, Aviation, Boyd, and Haskett are located, and all four of these buildings will come down prior to the construction of CBEC, which is planned to be LEED certified silver, if not gold. This new CBEC building, located just north of McPherson will essentially fuse the research facilities of Chemistry and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, since all the research laboratories will be in a common wing. This, together with the merger of Chemistry and Biochemistry, will effectively form a School of Chemical Sciences on The Ohio State University campus. It will surely foster closer scientific collaborations, and place us in a position well-prepared to respond to the challenges that face our society in the areas of health, energy, and the environment.

There are many changes and challenges that must be met with success. The university is moving from a quarter system to semesters. It is changing its administrative structure. Within three years, Chemistry has been within the College of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, then the College of Biological and Mathematical and Physical Sciences, and now to the Division of Natural and Mathematical Sciences within the College of Arts and Sciences. The College has also changed its budget and operating system to one which is much more highly centralized. The university is a State University, and the State of Ohio is facing a debt on the order of $8,000,000,000 with the stimulus money about to run out. Our President, E. Gordon Gee, often jokingly states that we are moving from a State University to a state-assisted university, and perhaps to a state located university. The university is, however, an integral part of the state economy and chemistry is pervasive within the state’s industrial sector. The university and, indeed, the department, has to be increasingly entrepreneurial and self-reliant in finding ways to maintain and pursue excellence in teaching and research. With fees frozen for the past three years, Chemistry has introduced laboratory fees for its undergraduate laboratory classes. These have already led to a great improvement in instrumentation available to the students, and should keep us state of the art as we go forward. There is also a greater emphasis in transferring knowledge from the bench to the market place, and chemists are working closely with the university’s technology transfer office.

With this brief introduction, I wish to convey the exciting and challenging times that face Chemistry. There is, however, no doubt in my mind that Chemistry at OSU, and, I mean chemistry in the broadest of terms, will emerge even stronger by the end of this decade. I hope you will enjoy reading some of the stories in this issue. I encourage you to write to us, to keep in touch, and to come back to see us when you can. We are increasingly trying to hold “get-togethers” at various national events during the year. With your support, we will ensure that Chemistry’s great @Ohio State!



With all good wishes for the Holiday Season and the New Year,


Malcolm H. Chisholm