Department naming is all about chemistry

Dr. Kurt Field (left) and President Joanne Glasser shared the honor of unveiling the first naming of a department at Bradley with Dr. JEANNE MUND LAGOWSKI ’51 MS ’52 and her husband Dr. Joseph Lagowski.

Surrounded by a standing-room-only crowd in the Olin Hall of Science, Dr. JEANNE MUND LAGOWSKI ’51 MS ’52 and her husband, Dr. Joseph Lagowski, added a significant chapter to their Bradley story last June. For the first time in its history, Bradley named an academic department: the Mund-Lagowski Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. 

“Between them, they are acknowledged international scholars, skillful editors and authors, talented and visionary administrators, and longtime supporters of Bradley University,” said President Joanne Glasser.

Jeanne was named a Bradley Centurion in 1995, and the couple received the President’s Award in 2002. They have been married for 58 years.

Dr. Lagowski visited with Dr. BERNARD HOFREITER ’48 MS ’50, who was a teaching assistant in Jeanne’s freshman chemistry class. 

“This is a humbling experience,” she said. “I am so proud of the University that it brings tears. It’s great to be able to do something that allows us to express our gratitude, and I thank my husband.”

Stunned by the generosity of the chemistry department and the University for this day of recognition, Joe Lagowski added, “It was something not expected nor necessarily wanted, but it represents the bond between everyone and my wife. I produce words for people, but I cannot produce words for this. I’d like to thank the University one more time for helping create my wife. Her very core was affected by Bradley University. Nothing else in her background could have done this. We appreciate it to no end. No words, sentences, or paragraphs will tell you what’s in my head.”

Jeanne and Joe met while earning doctoral degrees at the University of Michigan. After graduating in 1957, they spent two years at Cambridge University in England, returning to the states in 1959 to join the faculty at the University of Texas, Austin, where they are now emeriti professors.

President Glasser presented the Lagowskis with two tokens of appreciation representing their distinguished careers in chemistry and their sustained relationship with Bradley. Artist Hiram Toraason created a red and white decorative glass mortar and pestle for the couple. Toraason also designed a glass base and dome to hold a bottle that belonged to Dr. John Shroyer and once held nitrobenzyl chloride.

In honoring the couple, Glasser and Dr. Kurt Field, chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, noted the powerful influence former chemistry professor John Shroyer had on Jeanne Mund just after World War II, nearly 65 years ago.

Calling Dr. Shroyer the “father of Bradley’s modern chemistry department,” Field added, “Shroyer maintained rigorous grading standards and taught by the Socratic method.”

“Anything but the best was simply not acceptable,” Jeanne noted. “Not only did Dr. Shroyer encourage me to attend graduate school, he helped identify some programs that he thought would be appropriate. In post-World War II years not many women entered graduate programs in physical sciences. His philosophy was to always look for the silver lining. How fortunate I was to have him as a mentor.”

The Mund-Lagowski endowment is slated to enhance the chemistry and biochemistry department by funding faculty grants and awards, faculty-mentored research, and a professorship; supporting student stipends; supplementing department travel; enhancing the department-based library; and additional innovative academic activities.

Chemistry major JOSH HINMAN ’13 expressed his appreciation after the ceremony. “I already think that the chemistry department is one of the best departments at Bradley, and with this announcement, I’m excited that it has a chance to be even better.” 

Emphasizing that quality education for undergraduate students is the cornerstone of the university experience and recognizing the great value of research and scholarship, Glasser thanked the Lagowskis for “the support that will put Bradley at the forefront of chemistry and biochemistry education in the nation. It will provide our faculty and students with unparalleled opportunities for academic and scholarly excellence.”

— Karen Crowley Metzinger, MA ’97

Photography by David Vernon