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Changes and Detours


The university and the department progressed well over the years, especially from the vantage point of 39 years or so. But the growth hasn't been smooth, and as changes were made, there were also detours that seem to have crept in. In 1960, USF was the first entirely new state university to open its doors to students after World War II. Today it is one of very few of those start-up universities to have become a nationally recognized graduate research institution. At its inception, however, its future was far from certain. Would it grow to rival Florida and Florida State as an undergraduate institution? Would it establish itself as a graduate institution? Would it rise to national prominence in various departments and programs? In 1960, affirmative answers to these questions were by no means foregone conclusions. Success would depend on many factors including the qualities and performance of the founding group of administrators and faculty.

Administration-Dr. Ashford

Theodore Askounes Ashford, Ph.D., was the thirteen person hired by USF (Ashford 2003). He was the founding Director of the Division of Natural Science and Mathematics (1960-71) and the founding dean of the College of Science and mathematics (1971-73). He was also Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts (1966-71) and the first full professor of chemistry. His years of service have had a significant, lasting impact on the development of mathematics and all of the natural sciences at USF, including chemistry.

He attended the University of Chicago and earned a B.S. in 1932, a MS. in 1934, and a Ph.D. in 1936 (in organic chemistry for work on organoplatinum compounds, working with Professor M. Kharasch). At the University of Chicago he served as Instructor of Chemistry (1936-43), Examiner, Board of Examiners (1936-44), Chairman of the Physical Sciences Course (1943-47), and assistant professor (1943-50). In 1950, he moved to St. Louis University, where he was associate professor (1950-52) and professor (1953-60), and where he instituted degree programs in chemistry teaching and summer teaching workshops that served as models for later NSF summer workshop programs.

Dr. Ashford came to USF in 1960 dedicated to building a national research university that was strong in the natural sciences. He recognized the potential for growth that was represented by the Tampa Bay area. He also had a vision of what a great university should be, and an understanding of the importance of research to achieving that greatness. Faithful to high standards of academic excellence, he pursued his vision vigorously by the recruitment of scholars with a pioneering spirit and by encouraging and facilitating their efforts to secure funding from granting agencies dedicated to supporting the sciences. Under Dr. Ashford's leadership, undergraduate and graduate programs began with conceptions and plans that took form step by step throughout the natural sciences and mathematics.

In 1964, when USF graduated its Charter Class, it awarded bachelors degrees in mathematics and all of the basic sciences. At the time, natural sciences had seven departments and a faculty of 49, including 13 in chemistry. Immediately thereafter the Charter Class graduation, Dr. Ashford appointed committees to request the then Board of Control to offer Masters' Degree Programs. In 1965, reluctantly, and with minimal funding, the Board approved Masters' Degree Programs in Botany, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics and Zoology, and in Astronomy in 1966. In 1968, the first Doctorate at USF was initiated in Marine Biology, followed by Doctorate Degrees in Chemistry, Mathematics, and all fields of Biology. In the light of later budgetary constraints, it is entirely possible that without this precocious entry into graduate work initiated by Dr. Ashford (which established the precedent and model for later programs), USF might never have become a graduate institution. For a time at USF, all of the doctoral programs were in the sciences. That USF can claim to be a national research university is significantly a reflection of the pioneering work of Dr. Ashford in furtherance of the responsibilities entrusted to him.

Dr. Ashford was also very effective in bringing funding to USF and encouraging others to do the same. He was the principal investigator of a grant application to the National Institute of Health that brought to USF a grant for one fourth of the construction costs of the Physics Building. He was also the principal investigator of a grant application to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare which brought to USF a grant for one third of the construction costs of the Science Center. He had a significant role in determining how these buildings were designed and first utilized. In addition, he had major responsibility on University committees involved in the establishment of the College of Engineering and the College of Medicine, and it is believed that he had a significant role in the selection of the first deans of those colleges (Ashford, 2003).

Dr. Ashford was an internationally recognized expert in educational testing. He was a member of the Examinations Committee of the American Chemical Society(1939-86) and its Chairman for over forty years (1946-86). The Examinations Committee was responsible "for constructing validating, standardizing, and disseminating examinations in all fields of chemistry at all levels from the high school level through all branches of chemistry at the undergraduate level into the graduate level" (Ashford,1982). "If it is important to teach, it is important to test," he would say.

Over the years, Dr. Ashford developed a network of hundreds of college and high school professors who volunteered their efforts on an ongoing basis to create and revise chemistry examinations. Like mathematics and the natural sciences at USF, under Dr. Ashford's leadership, the Examinations Committee grew in performance and prominence. By the 1960's, examinations of the Committee were administered annually to hundreds of thousands of students at approximately 1600 high schools, 800 colleges, and 46 graduate schools throughout the USA and in many countries around the world. By the early 1980's, the institutional use of the chemistry examinations had grown to 2000 high schools, 1200 colleges, and 70 graduate schools. The exams have been translated into many languages including Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Indonesian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish. and Thai. As one indication of the quality and prominence of the testing service provided by the Examinations Committee during Dr. Ashford's years of leadership, the Educational Testing Service offered achievement examinations in mathematics, physics, and biology, but not chemistry. Based on his work, Dr. Ashford, was 'invited in various parts of the world, to conduct seminars, and to discuss the philosophy, theory, practice, and operation of the program" (Ashford, 1982).

With the hiring of Dr. Ashford, the Examinations Committee became associated with USF in 1960. This association had several positive impacts. First, it gave the nascent university immediate prominence in the testing of scientific achievement. The administration of the examinations to hundreds of thousands of students enrolled in high schools, colleges, graduate schools, the activities of the many subcommittees in creating them, and Dr. Ashford's speaking engagements brought USF's program in chemistry to the attention of many people throughout the country at a time when few people had heard about USF. Second, it provided a ready opportunity for members of the chemistry faculty to work with other faculty throughout the country to improve the testing of achievement in chemistry. Third, during times of budget constraints on travel, it enabled some faculty members who became associated with Examinations Committee to attend semi-annual Examinations Committee meetings held in conjunction with meetings of the Meetings of the American Chemical Society. Fourth, there was the strong benefit of having a resident expert on testing that I found personally rewarding. As director, dean, and professor, Dr. Ashford was always happy to share his expertise and gave generously of his time.

Dr. Ashford's early background was interesting. In 1922, at age thirteen, living in a small village in his native Greece, Theodore Askounes (his name at birth) had scored the highest marks in national high school entrance examinations. Known for his brilliance as a child, young Theodore had hoped to pursue advanced education. But economic necessities pulled him in a less appealing direction. During the early decades of the twentieth century, the economy of Greece was very poor by present standards; and a strong sense of family responsibility called him to forgo his education to join his aging father in America. Working as a waiter in a Greek restaurant in Chicago, Theodore's father, Nicholas had been able to be the main breadwinner for his wife and six children living in Greece, but he was growing old and needed help. So young Theodore postponed his plans for education and came to America where he joined his father as waiter in a Chicago restaurant. Two years later, his father returned to his home in Greece to retire. Young Theodore Askounes became the main family breadwinner. On a waiters salary, working twelve to fourteen hours per day, he was able to provide primary support for his father, mother, four sisters and two brothers including support for their education.

By 1925, at the age of 16, realizing that he also deserved support for his own education, Theodore enrolled in Chicago's Central YMCA High School (1925-28), where it was possible to pass courses by examination. Taking many courses (including algebra, trigonometry, and plane and solid geometry) by examination, he was able to complete the four-year program in three years while still working as a waiter on a more-than-full-time basis. He also worked his way through college and graduate school.

The story of how Theodore Askounes became Theodore Askounes Ashford reveals a bit of the social history of an earlier America. While pursuing his graduate work at the University of Chicago, as he was looking for part-time work as a substitute high school teacher, he initially received no job offers even though he had received the highest score on the teacher's placement examination. His advisor said that he should expect to have trouble getting a job with a foreign name during a depression and suggested that he might do better with a more Anglo-Saxon sounding name. So after discussing the matter with his wife, Venette, he looked through the telephone directory for a suitable name close to his family name. Moving toward the beginning of the alphabet, he selected "Ashford." Although this change did not serve to extinguish the prejudice he and many other immigrants continued to suffer, he was hired immediately after the name change was reflected in his records. (Ashford, 2000).

The sacrifice, vision, determination, brilliance and high standards of Theodore Askounes Ashford that laid the foundation for his own success in overcoming formidable obstacles in his early life also served the University well. Throughout his tenure as Director and Dean, Dr. Ashford worked with dedication, persistence, and creative intelligence in behalf of the departments in his Division, later in his College. He had strong convictions as to how a great university could grow from a small beginning, and he maintained high intellectual standards as the essential foundation for that growth. Based on his conscientious view of the merits, he was tireless advocate for the programs and teachers he found deserving; and he did not hesitate to press his case to the highest levels of the University according to his convictions.

Because of his administrative responsibilities, Dr. Ashford did not have a direct role in teaching chemistry until he retired as Dean in 1973. However. from the very beginning of the University, he played a strong, supportive role in its development. Even before the time that Chemistry had departmental status (fall, 1964), under Dr. Ashford's administration, Chemistry had developed a level of research usually associated with a major graduate university, a level that would not have been the expected pattern to emerge in light of the available resources. Nevertheless, Dr. Ashford's vision began to take shape as a result of a change in administration that was urged by several chemistry faculty and was approved by Dr. Ashford at a critical juncture, as may be seen in the following section.

Administrative Changes -Part I

The program that started was not the program that would continue. A lot of changes were envisioned at the outset of USF, but these seemed to gradually merge into a more traditional patter of modern American Academe. One proposal, favored, I was told, by Dean Cooper, would have abolished ranks (Instructor, Assistant Professor) in favor of a more general title "Don". The conflict between the goals of the Basic College and the Liberal Arts College would be resolved with the abolition of the College of Basic Studies in 1971 when Cecil Mackey became president, and the faculty of the latter were absorbed in departments of the Liberal Arts divisions (later Colleges)..

Another conflict was the Chemistry Program goals versus those of the Physical Science program,. Application forms asked if the applicant was prepared to teach physical science courses. I had little idea of what this meant, so I wrote, "Yes, but not on a regular basis." I needn't have worried. In 1964, the Physical Science program was experiencing a quiescence in favor of a more traditional chemistry curriculum Jack Fernandez and other charter faculty in the Chemistry Program assisted with physical Science courses, Jesse Binford transferring in 1961 never did. I never did either.

Another conflict seemingly arose within the Chemistry Program between Larry Monley, the Program Chairman, and others in 1962-63. What happened was complicated, and I was told at least two different versions, that have in common two facts: four of the five faculty members wanted a change in direction and administration. And the four met for lunch at the University Restaurant to discuss the plans. The four apparently wanted to have a stronger chemistry program, rather than an interdisciplinary program of physical science emphasis that had prevailed at the outset. It is worth remembering that Ted Ashford was the author of an excellent physical science textbook, "From the Atoms to the Stars." Larry Monley and Harry Kendall from Physics noted the overlap of several areas in chemistry and physics and so taught an interdisciplinary course that emphasized those areas. His wife Alice told me that they planned to write a special textbook for the course, but "they never did," she said (Tuegel, 2003).

What happened next? I was told that the group met at the University Restaurant, decided that they wanted Cal Maybury to head the program. I was also told that the four made an appointment to see Dr. Ashford in his moderately-sized office, and appeared at the appointed time. They stated that they wanted a change in the Chemistry Program. Dr. Ashford's initial response was not a positive one, so apparently, all four chemists stood up as if the meeting was over. Dr. Ashford urged more discussion, and it occurred and the change in Program administration came about.

Cal Maybury became Program Chairman in 1963 and would later become promoted to full professor.

Larry Monley took matters calmly, according to my sources, and when he described the experience from his background, I didn't sense that he had any regrets over the decision. He taught his classes, including quantitative analysis, with enthusiasm. Subsequently, Larry applied for promotion to full professor . The recommendation was sent forth by the Department, it was not favored by Dr. Ashford (according to Larry's wife; Tuegel, 2003), but it was favored by Dean Cooper, and it occurred prior to 1969.

Meanwhile, the character of the program changed and tended more toward a traditional chemistry in a typical major university. Despite his physical science background Dr. Ashford must have favored the changes toward a professional chemistry program, or it would have been greatly retarded. And it was not. In the end all five participants obtained what they wanted. Though it took longer for Larry Monley than for the others. But he was patient, and Larry appeared to be relaxed, though he was a very caring person. He worked hard at teaching and working with students, and enjoyed his work. Later, Larry transferred to the College of Education at the urging of Dean Jean Battle and became actively involved in the training of science teachers.

Administrative Changes -- Part II

In 1973, Cal Maybury was on leave in California and Dr. Schneller was serving as Interim Chair. Unhappiness had developed among a group of about 15 faculty members, who felt that it was time for another change, though Cal was actively doing research in California and going through a period of regeneration. A change was brought about. A meeting of interested faculty was called for a Saturday morning in the Spring of the year to discuss the responsibilities of the chairman (e.g., teaching- research-service -administration vs. administration-research-service). I had another engagement as a consequence of the recent death of my father, and so I missed the meeting. I was told that it was a very reasonable meeting concerned with the best interests of the department, and suggesting certain changes should occur. One of these was the Department chair should not be a totally administrative position, but would be expected to have an active research program and teach courses on a regular basis.

Not a lot more was said at the time, and Dr. Schneller continued as Interim Chairman. But in the following fall, there was a letter from Dean Ray announcing the appointment of Dr. Owen as Chairman of the Department. It wasn't posted in an obvious place, but it was available for observation. It was, in fact, less evident than the practical reality: Terry was sitting in the Chairman's office. Stew Schneller, having done a good job as Interim Chair, went back to doing well as a faculty member, and would later become Chair (Appendix 2).

Administrative Changes- Part III

As a result of having an elected Chairman's Advisory Committee, we had a body that was ready and able when it came to providing direction, assessments, and protocols. A document was available as to what the procedure was for having an elected chair, and a very thorough document it was, too. It suggested a four-year term as Chair, with the possibility of a second four-year term.

The rules that were promulgated worked well and Dr. Owen's term was followed by Dr. Davis's term, followed by Dr. Swartz's term as Chair (Appendix 2). After Dr. Mandell became Dean of Natural Sciences, he felt that there was a need for reorganization, and there followed discussion on the pattern that had been in place versus the changes that Dean Mandell wished to make. In the end, Dr. Schneller became Chairman of Chemistry in 1986, a position he held for eight years until he resigned to accept a deanship at Auburn University (Appendix 2).

The procedure for electing a Chairman from within the ranks of the department of Chemistry faculty had been by-passed by Dean Mandell, and the Department never returned to that procedure. Instead, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences , Dr. Rollin Richmond recommended that we seek a chair from external sources. That suggestion was accompanied by an offer to assist in the replacement of persons who had retired or left, and was voted favorably by the department faculty. As it happened, Dean Richmond accepted an offer as Provost and Vice President for academic affairs at a northern university and left (later to move to California as president of a university there). The person who replaced him, Dr. David Stamps, later Provost, agreed with the external source suggestion, and the search was on. The first search was not successful, despite having four candidates; we couldn't get a good match.

But a subsequent search was successful. After looking at many candidates, in 1999, three candidates were selected for visits, and the faculty recommended that an offer be extended to Dr. Michael J. Zaworotko, who had previously been Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Winnipeg.

An Academic Detour

Disaster nearly came in the first four years with the advent of the so-called Johns Committee. It is easy to forget the era of "red scare" McCarthyism, and the like. When I joined the faculty in 1964, one of my first duties (and not mentioned in the negotiations) was to visit the Administration Building to be finger printed and to swear allegiance to the State of Florida, or at least swear not to undertake to overthrow the State. A state senate committee headed by Sen. Charlie Johns was concerned about the alleged existence of communists, homosexuals, and atheists in classrooms in the state universities (University of Florida, Florida State, Florida A&M, and USF), and all were the subject of investigations and on-site hearings. Initially hearings were held in secret off campus at a resort motel on Dale Mabry. When this became known to the University administration, the committee was formally invited to work openly on campus. One faculty member told me he was questioned on why John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath" was being read in an American Literature Class. He mentioned that Senator Johns knew, for example, the number and kind of swear words in the book. A lengthy report was submitted after several weeks. There was " little evidence of ideological and moral aberrations" according to Cooper and Fisher (1982). But the report was concerned with certain readings, speakers, and free-wheeling class discussions. In 1963, President Allen addressed a joint session of the Florida Senate and House and affirmed the soundness and maturity of the University, and he affirmed the nature of inquiry at a major university.

Aftermath? The effect of the Johns Committee report was chilling, and could have been disastrous for the comparatively new university. One effect, I believe, was a short-term decrease in enrollment, which affected the budget, of course, but USF later recovered and picked up momentum. One colleague in Mathematics claimed there were challenges in hiring faculty, which he claimed worked to his advantage. Nor long after the John's committee issued its report (with a purple cover ), an explicitly illustrated report of sexual aberrations, the legislature terminated the Johns Committee's appropriation. The report became a prized item for collectors of pornography (Cooper and Fisher, 1982). Charley Johns never served a full term as governor. After a time, USF grew.

Faculty Expansion - Good and Bad News

Cal Maybury realized the need for a change in the character of the faculty with, perhaps the addition of faculty who either had more experience with research, research proposal preparation, and experience in directing graduate student research.

This could hardly have been a popular idea for several reasons. I sensed in a March, 1964 interview with Dean Cooper that there was a serious concern regarding an over-emphasis on research, a view with which I was in agreement, and I noted that I was seeking a good balance between teaching and research. Cal Maybury and Ted Ashford never expressed concern over an enthusiasm for research. But I was told that following my seminar, a meeting of the faculty was held and one person expressed concern that I might be too interested in research. I also sensed in 1964-65 that the term "scholarly activity" was favored over "research". President Allen was quoted as saying that "research is what you [a faculty member] did by yourself, when it was done with students, it was teaching." It seemed to make a lot of sense to me.

Cal's view's prevailed, and faculty that seemed to be dedicated to an active research program were added over the years, as a reflection on Appendix 1 should indicate.

Cal also felt a need for senior, truly experienced faculty, and two persons were added at the full professor level, a drastic step, considering that previous appointments after the charter faculty appointments had been limited to assistant professor or associate professors. It was a step that concerned some faculty members, me included, for the question of whether it would affect their opportunity for promotion in due course. When Cal suggested inviting a noted chemist, who would later become president of the American Chemical Society, I candidly asked if this would affect my future promotion opportunities. He said it wouldn't and I agreed that the potential addition would be great. I'd like to think I agreed before his answer, but time passes and memories get clouded. The particular individual never came to South Florida for an interview, but he did leave the institution where he had risen through the ranks and had brought honor to that institution, and he has done well at the second institution. He was serious about moving, and he has a condo in Florida, so he got here one way or another.

There were inevitable problems with the transition from an undergraduate institution to a true university with graduate programs and a strong emphasis on research. ("A metropolitan-based, nationally recognized, Research I university"). In fact, those problems still exist almost forty years later.

One need was for more persons experienced in graduate-student supervision. This was a touchy issue, much like the need for analytical chemists. "We all do analytical chemistry" was a quote I remembered a valued colleague making in a faculty meeting. And, of course, he was right, so far as the thought went. The same colleague noted, " We all do research." And he was right, but experience in directing research was limited to directing undergraduates, none of whom were working on a thesis. But of course, some of their work would lead to publication in refereed journals. Presumably, those who had written a dissertation could direct the writing of one. At the time, the criterion for being a member of the Graduate College at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and being allowed to be on graduate student advisory committees and to direct the research of graduate students was specific: that you had independently published a paper in a refereed journal.

Another issue with hiring older, more experienced faculty ---advancement. Would their accomplishments, produced under easier circumstances elsewhere, retard the advancement of faculty members already at USF? Charter Faculty, for example, had already faced significant teaching loads. They may have received, as I did, a short lecture on the distinction between contact hours and didactic hours. Three sections of a one-credit laboratory occupied nine hours of one's time (nine contact hours), but represented only three didactic hours. Three sections of a three-credit lecture course represented nine contact hours and nine didactic hours. Technically, the load was 15 hours (didactic, if push came to shove). Time could be granted for advising, and later for other faculty activities. Initially, however, the teaching load was substantial, what one would expect for a community college, but not for a traditional research university.

Following my short lecture from Dr. Ashford, exploring further distinctions of contact versus didactic seemed unwise, so I remained ignorant of what constituted an acceptable load. The heavier loads of the time, compared with later years, reduced time for research activities, for writing manuscripts and research proposals, and would leave one at a disadvantage compared with someone at a more established university.

That said, the attitude of Charter faculty members was understandable, and hiring faculty proceeded carefully, and in the end a mix of faculty were hired.

Jefferson C. Davis, Jr. (1965) came from the University of Texas with experience in directing graduate students and with a federal contract. In speaking favorably of him, one colleague suggested "Jefferson Davis this year, and we'll try for Robert E. Lee next year." The latter goal was never achieved, but Jeff made significant contributions in the field of chemical education. Jeff, while Chair, was the first to actually look at the data for a criterion of how well we prepared our students for subsequent courses. After they left a given faculty member, did a given student's grades in the next course improve, stay the same, or get worse. A very creative person, he was the author of a very readable text in theoretical physical chemistry. Perhaps he and Larry Monley were pioneers in the need to develop a program in chemical education that is now a popular option among our graduate students.

Robert S. Braman (1967) had no experience directing graduate students, though he had industrial experience and research institute experience which included writing research proposals. When a colleague asked me what I thought of Dr. Braman after we had visited, I said I thought he was good. "Good?" he said. "He's so good, he's dangerous." I'm sure that he meant that Bob Braman would provide an example and an appropriate level of competition, and it says volumes that my colleague became an enthusiastic supporter of Dr. Braman's cause. And it paid off. Bob's papers were among the highest cited of any in the department in the 1960s and 1970s (Zaworotko, 2003).

Biochemistry and the Medical School

Dr. Terence Owen had a strong interest in biological chemistry, but it was evident that we needed additional faculty members to have a biochemistry group that would be supportive in the development of the College of Medicine. Dr. Joseph Cory came as an assistant Professor in 1966, and he was followed by Dr. Winslow Caughey , an experienced biochemist, who came as a full professor and brought with him post-doctoral colleagues and instrumentation (Appendix 1) Subsequently, Dr's. Larry Howell, Kin-Ping Wong, David Lambeth, David Wilkerson, and Gerald Carlson became members of the growing Biochemistry Division. This expansion coincided with the development of the College of Medicine starting in 1971. And members of the Biochemistry Division taught biochemistry in the Department of Chemistry and the College of Medicine.

A major transition occurred in 1974 when the College of Medicine moved out of the Science Center and into their new building in the northwest corner of the campus. The decision of where Biochemistry should be housed was brought up in the 1974-75 academic year. A group of advisors, including Dr. Karl Vestling , Professor of Biochemistry at the State University of Iowa, came to South Florida on a fact-find visit prior to making a recommendation. They had a visit scheduled with Dr. Owen, then Chairman of Chemistry, but before the meeting Karl sought me out, perhaps because we had known each other since 1959, and asked me what I thought. I suggested the program should remain in chemistry to promote an interdisciplinary program. Our conversation was pleasant but short, and he made an accurate prophecy, "We're going to recommend it to the College of Medicine." And, of course, Dean Smith preferred to have a Department of Biochemistry under his supervision, and it came to pass.

Fig 2-1

Fig 2-1. Clipping from Tampa Bay News , July 21-17, 1985; p.6

The establishment of a Department of Biochemistry in the College of Medicine had some marked consequences for the Chemistry Department. Joe Cory transferred to the College of Medicine and later headed became Professor and Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry. Chemistry faculty were no longer needed to teach biochemistry to medical students, and we went from six faculty members in the Division of Biochemistry to three. Dr's. Howell, Wilkerson, and Wong left. Dr. David Lambeth left in June 1977. One faculty member who remained wrote that he probably learned as much biochemistry in his four years at USF as in the six years of doctoral and postdoctoral studies because of the extensive teaching duties at the graduate and undergraduate level. Members of the Biochemistry Division were thinly spread, and it has taken years to achieve a degree of stability.

The Clinical Chemistry Major

In 1978-79, the USF Department of Chemistry ranked fifth in the U.S. in production of B.A. and B.S. chemists, according to annual issues of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the official news organization of the American Chemical Society. The Department was in the top ten for the production of chemistry majors for more than 20 years (Davis, 2003).

The annual listings in C&EN were deemed newsworthy and summaries appeared in local media (cf. Fig2-1). It was worth noting that USF Chemistry Department produced more chemistry majors than Florida State, University of Florida, or the University of Miami in 1984. In fact, a writer in ChemALUMNews'85 was moved to note:

"The list clearly indicates that the chemistry program at USF is traveling in rather select company. The schools ranked above USF have been established for much longer periods of time. With our 25 years, we rank as the baby in this impressive litter. Further, we have been ranked in the top 10 in five of the past six years. The only year we missed, we were number 11. The Department of Chemistry takes pride in its consistent record of achievement" (Swartz, 1985).

This achievement was due to consideration given to undergraduate training, a tradition from the outset of the Program/Department, but it was also a consequence of having a popular clinical chemistry program that was initiated by Dr. Eugene D. Olsen, an analytical chemist. Gene initiated a program in clinical chemistry, one of the few in the nation, in about 1971-72. Satisfactory completion of the program practically guaranteed the graduate successful employment in a hospital. Dr. Steven Grossman (2003) noted, " The Clinical Chemistry major was not only a vehicle for a guaranteed job in the life sciences, but was also an excellent major for admissions to health professional schools, e.g., medical, veterinary, just as the Health Professionals major is currently" Dr's. Olsen, Sandor Vandor, and Steve Grossman were actively involved in the program. But it would have benefited from the involvement of more faculty members, who might have eased Gene's level of responsibility. Unfortunately, the numbers of students being produced declined, so a decision was made to terminate the program about the time of Dr. Olsen's retirement in 1994, and the clinical chemistry was phased out during the next few years. The last Undergraduate Banquet award to a clinical chemistry major went to Hugar D. McNamee in 1997, and then no more awards were made to such majors.

On the other hand, as Dr. Grossman noted recently, "what goes around, comes around ". The Health Professional major has been in force since 2001, and it covers most of the courses originally covered in the clinical chemistry major with the exception of nuclear chemistry/radiochemistry and perhaps another course or so (Grossman, 2003). So, a good idea has been resurrected, and students are taking advantage of the program.


Despite the considerable investment of time and effort by members of the Department, there were highs and lows, progress and detours, ups and downs, typically occasioned by outside forces an constraints beyond our control. But it was difficult to stop the forward progress, particularly as there was an expansion of space, as well as strong leadership and dedicated efforts by faculty, staff, and students, and may be seen in the next two chapters.


I am grateful to Robert Ashford, Ph.D., J.D. for assistance in preparing the his fathers biography and to Nicholas A. Ashford, Ph.D., J.D. for reviewing the material.


  • Ashford, N. A. 2000. Venette Askounes Ashford (1906-1994) Chapt. 4 In: Greek-American Pioneer Women of Illinois. Arcadia. Chicago, IL.
  • Ashford, R. 2003. University of Syracuse Law School, Syracuse, NY. Pers. Comm.
  • Ashford, T. A. 1986. Vita. University of South Florida, Tampa, FL. (copy provided by Mr. George Voulgaris).
  • Ashford, T. A. 1982 Theodore A. Ashford. P. 33 In: Graduate Study in Chemistry at the University of South Florida, USF, Tampa, FL.
  • Binford, J. S., Jr. 2003. Department of Chemistry, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL Pers. Comm.
  • Davis, J. C., Jr. 2003. Santa Rosa , CA Pers. Comm.
  • Grossman, S. H. 2003. Department of Chemistry., USF, April 28, Pers Comm.
  • Monley, L. 1965. USF, Pers. Comm
  • Swartz, W. E. 1985. Chemistry Department earns high ACS ranking. ChemALUMNews '85. p. 2
  • Sismilich, L.A. 2003. Office of Advancement, USF, Pers. Comm.
  • Tuegel (Monley), A. 2003. Tampa, FL. Pers.Comm.
  • Zaworotko, M. 2003. Department of Chemistry, USF, March 27, Pers. Comm.

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