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CHEMISTRY AT USF, 1960-2004

Overview

The Chemistry Program ran out of space by 1964, perhaps earlier. As the tenth and eleventh faculty members were added (Martin, Olsen), others moved out; other departments accommodated. At one time, chemists were spread between four buildings: Chemistry, Physics, Science Center (SCA), and Bioscience Facility (BSF).

The Physics Building (Table 3.1) became available in the summer of 1964. It housed Physics, Mathematics, Astronomy, Psychologists, the Natural Science Division Directors offices, as well as some biologists and chemists. Since a portion of the funds was provided by NIH (thanks to Dr. Ashford's efforts), there was provision made for those persons whose research interests were biomedical in nature.

There was an advantage that came to Dr. Guy Foreman, Chairman of Physics:Equipment money. Associated with a new building was a certain amount of funds available for equipment. Either through the generosity of Dr. Foreman or the skill of Dr. Maybury, some of the money became available to chemistry faculty.

As time passed, Physics expanded, Psychology left, Astronomy was transferred to the University of Florida after Dr. James Ray became Dean of the College of Natural Sciences.

Buildings Gross Square Feet Years
Table 3-1. Buildings housing chemists: 1961 - Present.
Chemistry 78,000 1961 - Present
Physics 80,285 1964 - 1999
SCA 91,821 1968 - Present
BSF 60,000 1993 - Present
NES -- --

The opening of Physics was celebrated by a symposium celebrating the dedication: "Science Today and Tomorrow" held November 13 and 14, 1964 (Fig 3-1). Speakers were affiliated with government agencies (NSF, NIH, NASA, Oak Ridge ), as well as Yale University and the University of Chicago. The Conference committee consisted of Dr's Clarence Clark (Chairman of Physical Science Course), Guy Foreman (Chairman of Physics Program), Jack Robinson (Assistant Professor of Physical Science) and Russell M. Cooper (Chairman of the Committee and Dean of Liberal Arts College) The cost of the evening banquet in the University Center ballroom was $2.50. The Speaker was supposed to be Governor Ferris Bryant, but I think he was unable to attend and his place was taken by Representative Sam Gibbons . The cost of the building was $1,709,725 (including a grant of $205,194 from NIH). Smith McCandles & Hamilin were the architects and the contractors were Biltmore Construction Co.


Fig 3-1.

Fig 3-1. Program announcing Physics Building dedication (personal copy)


Movement from Chemistry to Physics started in 1964 with Dr. Owen. Dr. Worrell moved into his lab when Dr. Owen moved to the Science Center. Dr. Davis and Dr. Maybury moved to Physics in 1968-69. The Varian-A60, the Department's first NMR, was housed in the basement of Chemistry; subsequently it was moved to Physics and put in the office of Dr. Davis's lab/office combination. Subsequently, Dr. Braman took over Dr. Davis's facilities when he moved to SCA. Other chemists who were housed in Physics included Dr. Binford, Dr. Stevens, and Dr. O'Malley (Federspiel, 2003a).

The Science Center was formally dedicated in November, 1968. Dr. Willard Libby, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry spoke on November 15. Dr.Libby had been at the University of Chicago at the same time Dr. Ashford was there. Dr. Libby received the Nobel Prize for his work with carbon-14 dating. Central Administration was impressed by Dr. Ashford's contacts, and this had a significant, positive impact on impact as Dean of the College. At Dr. Libby's presentation a combined dedicatory celebration was held: Science Center, Theatre Centre, and Social Science Building. He was pleasant in his interactions with students, faculty, and guests. Barbara Martin remembers that the Bramans and the Martins took him to dinner at "Los Novedades" ("The Novelties", long since out of business) in Ybor City one evening. He was a charming gracious man, who interacted well with students and faculty.

After the opening of the Science Center (SCA) in 1968, more space opened up. Dr. Ashford transferred his suite to the top floor of the building. Available laboratories opened up for Biochemists (Caughey, Cory, Howell, Wong) as well as organic chemists (Fernandez, Owen, Jurch, Raber, Schneller, Newkome, Castle) on the third floor (now called the fourth floor). Ultimately, Chemistry Department offices moved from Chemistry to the Science Center on the second floor, which we shared with the Computer Center. Biologists were on the first floor and in the basement; the animal facilities and a coffee shop were also in the basement. Subsequently when the building was renovated during Dean Mandell's term, we lost the coffee shop/cafeteria. You could argue that most of the tables were occupied by engineering majors who didn't have a place to drink coffee or study (or so it seemed) in their buildings. Leon Mandell said in excusing the loss of the coffee shop that there are many universities known for their great labs, but he knew of none known for their great cafeterias.

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the occupants, there was opportunity for conversation with those in other disciplines, and I thought this was an excellent feature of SCA and the organization. It reached a maximum in 1971 when the College of Medicine moved into the top floor with offices and labs spread throughout the building.

Unique Features of the Science Center

The Science Center was unique for several reasons, ranging from A (architecture) to W (water pressure).

Architecture: the building was supposed to resemble a Moorish castle, reflecting (distantly) Tampa's Hispanic heritage. When this was mentioned, I always envisioned the dean on the roof with hot oil prepared to repel invaders (an unworthy thought, albeit a recurring one). It was also unique for the construction flaws (or so it seemed to me).

Elevators: The building had and still has two elevators, freight and passenger. Both tended to get stuck, though perhaps the larger had an excuse. According to a then--current story, Dr. Winslow Caughey moved his NMR spectrometer up to the third (now fourth floor), and it may have been too heavy for the elevator. It was a 7,000- lb JEOL 4H 110 instrument in a 6000-lb elevator. To get the heavy instrument in it was slowly moved in over a plywood raft to spread the weight, and a representative from the elevator company on top of the elevator box coping with the solenoid as the cables stretched (Federspiel, 2003b).

Thereafter for years until college reorganization, members of the dean's office had a special tool for restarting the elevator when it got stuck. Stomping your feet if you were stuck inside and no one heard the signal bell seemed to work as well. The smaller passenger elevator would get stuck as well. When our sons were helping me move from Chemistry (third floor) to SCA (fourth) in December 1974, Bruce got stuck, and his younger brother John (then 12) used the lab crowbar to get him out (fine, but how many labs had a crowbar?).

In renovation, the motor was replaced, and a new interior coating was applied to the freight elevator. I wonder if the cables were replaced as well?

Leaks: Apparently, the floors weren't sealed or water-proofed when the building was accepted, and it became necessary to seal or reseal them . On the other hand a sizeable portion of the first floor, which housed utilities, was never sealed, so when we moved from the fourth floor to the basement as part of the renovation, we became victims of what we called "rain days" as water spilled on us. We moved a workhorse instrument to a lab in the basement and I visited with an advisee as to where to put it. I suggested in middle of the bench; he suggested at the east end, which we did. That night there was a leak and the overhead panel held back for a while, then with a large plop it fell--- water, soggy panel and all on the treasured instrument. Amazingly, staff members were able to dry out the instruments. Thereafter, we asked the Physical Plant to install Plexiglas sheets over our computers and more expensive instrumentation, and it seemed to help. SCA was renovated (again), but in a total way in 1996-1998, but it seems from tales told about that the leaks on the first floor were never actually fixed. Our chair noted (January 2003) that the Biologists were unhappy at the leaks they were experiencing.

Oversights: One leak was especially spectacular when Dr. Larry Howell in his third floor lab noticed a convenient floor drain and had a bucket of water to get rid of . So he did the obvious and poured the water into the drain, noticing later that the drain hadn't been connected and that what he had was a short, straight tube down to the next floor.

Stairs: The stairs were nice and wide, except for those going from the third to the fourth floor (now fourth to fifth), then they were shortened. A mystery to me. I was told it was because they planned to have the Dean's office on the first floor, so there would have been little use for the top floor, being held in reserve for various projects (a College Library was proposed by faculty members tired of walking to the library. ) perhaps, but the Dean probably wanted a better view; certainly on the top floor he got one, with more windows than anyone else had.

Vibration: For some reason, the top floor, which is where Dean Ashford had his suite, was afflicted with notable vibrations. Until the problem was fixed, I used to hate going to meetings in that suite because I would get a queasy feeling. The vibration was enough that typewriters would creep off the table, unless they were tied down with rubber pads. Later, repairs must have been done, and the "bad vibes" ceased or ceased to be noticeable.

Water pressure: The water pressure on the fourth floor was low. How low? When we were using a water aspirator for filtration on one bench, we had a rule that a second faucet on the same bench couldn't be used; otherwise, the suction in the flask would pull the water out of the aspirator into the filter flask. No big deal, given the space available and the quality of the space: room for non-physiological benches and for adapting to our varying research needs. In 2003 following renovation, I noticed a reluctance of an advisee to use a water aspirator in our laboratory (on a floor below): he said it was because the water pressure was too low.

Renovations

Buildings have a limited utility before there is a need for renovation, to correct past mistakes, to allow for changing technology, or for changing needs, and renovation was a good aspect of the history of most of the buildings occupied by chemists.

Renovations - Chemistry

It seemed to me that the Chemistry Building was renovated a lot, which kept it fairly modern., or at least as modern as possible, given the pace with which technology increased.

One major renovation occurred when Dr. Owen was Chairman in 1975-76. All the teaching laboratories on the first two floors were renovated. New benches were added, windows were added, and really better hoods were added. A teaching platform was added to the general chemistry laboratories. The storerooms were also improved, and the lighting was improved. Windows were a great improvement. In the Spring of 1965, we had to close labs when we had electricity outages (one tornado, one squirrel, one bulldozer). We still would have had to close the lab with windows, but with windows, it was easier to see one's way out.

Renovation gave us desk units for labs in physics and Science Center, thanks to Dr. Owen's generosity. We propped up the stone desktops with 2'x4' boards, then removed the individual bench units, so they got another 20 years use.

Laboratory courses were postponed or other rooms were used for the teaching labs. It took some careful planning on Terry Owen's part. But it came off.

The auditoria were renovated several times. One renovation came with the addition of a railing on the side walls of the auditoria. One morning Dr. Ashford went down the side in the dark (light controls were on the lecture bench), and he mis-stepped. I believe he broke an elbow, which was unfortunate, of course, but it had been broken before and had not healed properly; this time, I heard, the re-healing led to an improved elbow.

The auditoria seats were renovated. The new seats were a great improvement. The original ones weren't bad to sit on, but the note pads had been heavily used and would periodically give way with a loud noise during a lecture, to the amusement of students, but to the embarrassment of the victim. I would stop the lecture, apologize for the inconvenience, and ask for the desk number, write it down (owing to flawed memory), then send a note to the Physical Plant asking for help. After awhile some chairs were beyond help, and that renovation was appreciated.

Another renovation altered the size of the classrooms. Dr. Allen once noted that 85% of the classrooms on the USF campus held fewer than 50 students, and went on to note that there were small liberal arts colleges that couldn't make that statement. It was true enough, but there were economies of scale that came to pass. If you taught larger classes, you could offer fewer sections and perhaps allow the faculty more time for scholarly activity. So CHM 101 and 103 were combined with a slight angle and CHM 105 and 107 were combined to get two rooms that would hold about 100 students.

Yet another classroom renovation occurred later and was cheaper. To have more than a certain number, two doors were required. Suddenly CHM 104 got an extra door in the back and what seemed like many more seats. One felt almost claustrophobic, and the room had four seats arranged on the side walls, which meant that a certain portion of the blackboard had a poor line of sight for those students.

Late renovation consisted of conversion from classroom to lab; this happened on the second floor south side. (It would have been worse if some teaching lab space hadn't opened in SCA.). And a useful set of laboratories was opened up. Other conversions on the first floor utilized CHE 106 and 108 for the general chemistry program, including space for scheduled tutoring students.

A still later renovation placed carpeting in the teaching class rooms, and while this may not have been a major renovation, it was appreciated.

In the later '80s and early '90s benches were added to the patio to the south of the so-called jewel box. The latter was a set of offices in the south center of the building . It was covered with small (1" x 1" ) tiles. After 10-15 years, the combination of aging mortar and thermal expansion caused the tiles to pop. Bob Ashford (later Robert Ashford, J.D., professor of Law at Syracuse University) collected them and pasted them onto a small box as a gift to his father. Later, it seemed the tiles just disappeared, and in time, they were no longer replaced. Finally, the building was covered in stucco, and pained blue. The everything that faced the breezeway was painted blue. The outside of the auditoria was painted blue. While blue was a favorite color, there was limit that was reached when the bas relief murals (symbolizing "Man's relationship to man") created by Joe Testa-Secca, were painted over (covering the river stone) in what else? Blue paint. The contractors probably did it to save time and for convenience. And perhaps persons had long since stopped admiring the murals.


Fig 3-2.

Fig 3-2. Students passing murals on the Chemistry lecture hall walls (University Archives).


Mr. Ron Federspiel watched with disappointment as one more renovation(?) occurred. A ponytail palm with a 2-3-ft bole was removed one evening and replaced by a much cheaper tree. An expensive palm with character didn't fit in with the plans of someone from Physical Plant, and out it went. Not an easy departure, we're sure, but gone, nevertheless.

Another major renovation is expected in the next 18 months that will occur as part of the much appreciated addition of the NES (Natural and Environmental Sciences Building). As part of it, the decorated, then plastered jewel box will be razed. Legends will live on (please see Dr. Schneller's contribution, Anecdotes)

Renovation - SCA - I

When we were given the privilege of moving into SCA 474-A, in December 1974 it was with the understanding we would do it post haste, i.e., before January 1975. This was achieved through the efforts of the Chair of Chemistry, Dr. Terence C. Owen, with the approval of Dean Ray and other Chairs of the College of Natural Sciences. It was part of an occupation of space on the fourth floor that had been assigned to the College of Medicine, and in moving out provided office, research, potential space. What had been a College of Medicine Library was subsequently renovated into two large laboratories, other rooms would be converted into laboratories for chemists (Drs.Carlson, Castle, Tsokos, Wenzinger, Wickstrom) and for biologists (Dr's Lim, Romeo).

When we moved into SCA 474-A with the help of some of my sons and Larry Eng-Wilmot, we noticed that a sizeable amount of space was occupied by boxes waiting to be shipped elsewhere. They covered up the central pillar with what I thought was a water pipe coming down to what I presumed was a sink. After the boxes had been removed, it was evident that there was no sink and the pipe wasn't a water piper, there was no large sink available. I sent a note to our Chair asking if the folks before had sent their glassware out for dry cleaning. Fortunately, Terry was amused, and gave us permission to use an adjacent lab that had a sink. Subsequently, Dr. Clinton Dawes, down in the basement, graciously gave up a sink, which was installed in SCA 464, and we vacated the beautiful extra lab. Unfortunately, as time passed we found the sink was above Dr. Richard_Mansell's (Biology) lab, and when holes had been drilled for the water pipes, there were tiny gaps, and spilled water would fall below in slight, but noticeable amounts. Subsequently gaskets were added, and the problem was stopped.

Renovation started in the spring of 1975, and turned a number of spaces into useful research labs. Unfortunately, our lab was in the center of things, and the Associate Dean once commented that perhaps we shouldn't have been allowed in until everything had been finished. We were lucky to have the space, but there were problems, as well as advantages, and some amusements.

The problem was that our lab was in the middle of things, and we muddled through with research with occasional side shows of workmen working in our lab shoving wires through the area above the ceiling tiles, or shooting bolts into concrete with the aid of a blank cartridge, or raising the noise and dust level.

The advantage was they had better tools than we did, and when we needed something opened the construction workers had the strength and the tools. Meanwhile, Graduate students like Larry Eng-Wilmot, Dilna Victor, William Hitchcock worked through din and dust and managed to complete their theses or dissertations or research projects. The other advantage of the turmoil was that we were allowed to spread out until there was a need for the space, and it was perhaps the most space-luxurious time of my academic career. It was an active, productive time.

There were amusements as well. Dr. Jan Tsokos had moved in and so had Dr. Dan Lim (Biology). One day a crisis arose: Dr. Tsokos' mice had escaped and were slowly creeping down the hallway, and two younger workmen, late teens or early twenties were unusually leery of the mice. These mice happened to be coming past Dan Lim's lab, which had a sign indicating that he was doing research in the area of organisms that were responsible for a social disease; it appeared that the mice were coming from his lab, and the workmen thought they were "carriers". We had some plastic boxes for mice, which we placed on top of the active mice, then returned them to Jan's lab, much to the relief of the workmen.

There was a good rapport between the construction workers and faculty, students, and staff in the Science Center. One conversation had interesting consequences; A younger faculty member struck up a conversation with a plumber while having coffee in the Science Center cafeteria. He learned that the plumbing contractor needed an assistant, and that being a homeowner would actually be qualified. So they struck up a bargain. After his summer-term class was finished in the morning, our faculty colleague changed into work clothes and became an assistant to the contractor for the remainder of the day. This interesting arrangement managed to be described in the student newspaper, the Oracle, on what must have been a slow news day. And perhaps it was revealed that our colleague could make more money as a plumber's assistant than as an assistant professor. As the time for completion of the project neared, our colleague got additional help from his wife; I think I noticed one weekend that they, too, were assisted by their children. It must have been a welcome relief to comparatively slim paychecks from USF, but I wondered whether the publicity was worth it and whether he would have been better off writing research proposals for future funding. Faculty members like Bill Taft in Geology had done this, and it paid off for him, and I think for others.

In addition to the formal renovation, there was considerable informal renovation. Dr. James D. Ray. Jr. , Professor of Biology and later Dean of Natural Sciences was the Building supervisor and was very gracious when approached about small renovations that would not involve the physical plant or official contractors.

The walls of the labs and offices were uniformly colored, a quiet , institutional beige. The hallways were colored a bright , sunny yellow. My office was exceptional in that two walls were colored hall yellow, and learned later that I was living in a former mimeograph room that had been created by the College of Medicine from a hallway (two yellow walls) by adding two walls made of concrete blocks (later painted beige). Best office I ever had for size.

Not all informal renovations were Dean-sanctioned. In a certain non-chemistry lab, the students tired of the beige walls and voted a different color --- brown as I recall. And so they decided to surprise their faculty advisor while he was out of town on an extensive field trip. They managed to obtain some old paint, and applied it, failing to appreciate the paint chemistry involved, that drying agents don't age well, and so the paint was sticky to the touch for a couple of weeks after it was applied. Nevertheless all counted it an improvement. The advisor was (and still is) and eminently reasonable man, and he must have been impressed by the American eagle with a five foot wing span. I was, and used to find excuses to stop and look it when I passed by the lab. Alas, it was demolished in the first stages of the major renovation of 1995. Gone, but not forgotten

Renovation - SCA - II

SCA was renovated several times over the years, until in 1996-1998, it was gutted and really renovated.

The first renovations (after 1975) when Dr. Mandell was Dean of Natural Sciences, occurred after USF agreed to be annexed by the City of Tampa. It seemed as a consequence that we received more attention from local fire marshals, one of whom must have noticed that the central core of the second floor (later 3rd) didn't go all the way around, so that failing was corrected. Appropriate doors existed on the top floor.

Subsequently, to gain more laboratory space, the basement was renovated. And we lost our coffee shop/cafeteria, lounge area that was converted into an NMR facility for Chemistry and into laboratories for Chemistry, Biology, and Geology on the west side of the building.

Later, it became evident that a more serious renovation was in order, and after several years of planning, it started in 1996. The planning seemed to go in fits and starts to some of us. We had planning meetings, some of which were valuable; others appeared top be exercises in futility when we ended up with modular construction, as opposed to laboratories that conformed to individual needs, a luxury in the view of some.

When BSF opened in 1993, several faculty representing science departments vacated for laboratories in BSF. Biologists went for the first floor and second floor, which they shared with geologists. Chemists occupied the third floor Of the chemists, those who left were mainly biochemists and organic chemists. Dr. Robert had space in BSF, but Dr. Braman was housed in Physics, as were most of the physical chemistry. Dr. Newkome and Dr. Schneller had sizeable, productive operations. College Development Personnel, including Mrs. Judith Powell, went to "Trailerville", a set of trailers near the Fine Arts building.

In time, it became evident that Dr's Benson, and others associated with the institute for Environmental Studies, as well as Dr. Stanko were not among those who would be fitted into BSF, pending the renovation of SCA. At the time, the matter didn't seem so crucial because of rumors. One was that the building would be renovated from the top down, then those on the lower floor would be placed back on the top floors while renovations continued. At least that's what upper construction management allegedly thought; subsequently, it appeared that the persons more closely involved with the construction operations realized the approach would never work.

The matter seemed likely to cause come inconvenience, but that seemed reasonable enough. I realized that all would be safe because of concern for the sensitive NMR spectrometer. We didn't need to worry about dust in our lungs; the NMR unit could stand dust even less than us. And so we moved our operations to the basement from very comfortable quarters on the top floor. Office and a sizeable laboratory. We had acquired more equipment and furniture than we had appreciated. When the College of Natural Sciences folded, we acquired a conference table and chairs. But we were able to fit into the basement. While there, we came to realize the need for renovation and the fact that a significant portion of the first floor wasn't sealed, so we experienced "rain days" . Fortunately, nice men from Physical Plant installed Plexiglas sheets (hung from the ceiling) over our computers and critical instruments, after first having our Coulter Counter, our pride and joy flooded one night with a mixture of nasty water and ceiling tile (See Leaks).

In time, however, the happy dream that we would not need to move out, turned out to be false, when I leaned that the NMR unit was being moved to Life Science Annex, and at a significant cost. Then Dr. Schneller having resigned as Chair, and pending his departure for Auburn, Dr. Fernandez was faced with the problem. One choice was a lab to be created in space in the Mental Health Facility, specifically in a kitchen of a cafeteria that was being closed. Dr. Lawrence (Biology) and I were given a guided tour of the place, and we (individually and collectively) felt that it was totally unsuitable. Then the problem became Dr. Davis's.

Dr. Stanko's office was in Chemistry, and his lab equipment was moved from the Science Center to storage for three years.

Dr. Patricia Dooris declined to move to the basement so her office and activities were moved to "Trailerville", as was Dr. Robert's Benson's office.

In the end, we had a happy ending (apart from two more moves), and we were moved to the Blood Bank.

While we were away

This was a major renovation. I was told that the contractors brought in small bulldozers on rubber tires to smash down the cinder block walls. A side of SCA would be opened and large amounts of debris would be shoved out - carefully -no one ever saw a bulldozer comedown. Then, I presume all that remained was the two elevators and the major supporting pillars. It must have been a remarkable sight.

The renovation proceeded at a good pace, and many of us looked forward to returning with dual motives. A new building carried with it a certain sum for equipment, and some thought the same would be true for a renovated building. As it happened, the answer was yes and no. Yes, there would be equipment money, but it would be less than we may have expected. The university administration had a chance to buy office equipment for all SCA occupants, and this was a rare opportunity that they took advantage of, and to good effect. And there was money available for some useful new instruments as well.

When we moved back, we found a beautifully renovated building with new office equipment, sealed floors, beautiful views and windows to appreciate them, and a good mix of occupants, Biology, CAS Computing, Chemistry, Environmental Science and Policy, Geology, and some very good facilities. Laboratories tended to be modular, which had advantages and disadvantages. And life was fine, until we expanded some more, and the need for more space became evident. But there was hope for the future in the form of the NES (Natural and Environmental Science) Building

Natural and Environmental Science Building

[To be expanded]

Literature Cited

  • Federspiel, R. F. 2003a. Department of Chemistry, USF, pers. Comm.
  • Federspiel, R. F. 2003b. Department of Chemistry, USF. Pers. Comm.. March 3.

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