Winthrop's Chemistry Program Gains American Chemical Society Approval (Winthrop press release)

Sept. 22, 2004

ROCK HILL, S.C. - The American Chemical Society (ACS) Committee on Professional Training (CPT) recently decided that Winthrop University will be added to its roster of institutions offering ACS-approved programs in chemistry.  The determination came after completion of a $7 million modernization of all Winthrop chemistry facilities in January 2002, submission of a self-study to ACS in May 2003, participation in a program review with CPT at the September 2003 ACS meeting, and hosting of an evaluation visit by ACS in spring 2004.

Approval by the American Chemical Society, which is the premiere U.S. professional society for the scientific community, serves as national recognition of the quality and value built into Winthrop’s chemistry program, said Winthrop President Anthony DiGiorgio.

For Winthrop chemistry majors, a certified degree in chemistry is a valuable personal credential that means a student has completed a rigorous academic chemistry curriculum in an ACS-approved department. The extra rigor and additional requirements of the certified degree are valued by potential employers and graduate schools alike, said Pat Owens, chair of Winthrop’s Department of Chemistry, Physics and Geology.

Approximately 40 percent of Winthrop's chemistry graduates directly enter Ph.D. programs in diverse fields such as materials science, neuroscience, biochemistry, biomedical engineering and bio-organic chemistry. Another 30% go into medical, dental or pharmacy school, while the remaining 30% go directly into professional chemist industrial positions with corporations such as BASF, Sherman-Williams, Atotech USA, Glaxo-Smith-Kline, RJ Reynolds and Bowater.

"ACS approval also qualifies Winthrop University to apply for grants offered by industries and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. ACS approval is a benchmark industry uses for quality programs in chemistry," Owens said.

The recognition of Winthrop’s Department has been a team effort that is reflective of Winthrop’s transition from a teacher’s college to a leading comprehensive university.

Owens credited work beginning in the 1980's when Tom Moore, currently Winthrop's Vice-President for Academic Affairs, headed the Department and set the goal of obtaining ACS approval. Owens also highlighted work by three exceptional Deans—Dr. Betsy Brown, Dr. Tom Moore, and Dr. Debra Boyd—as well as President DiGiorgio and the Board of Trustees for supporting science programs and the extensive renovations of the Sims Science Building in 2002.

Owens noted that special recognition for making a tremendous impact on science at Winthrop deservedly goes to Cliff Calloway and Julia Baker. During the mid 1990's, these two faculty developed innovative proposals and were competitively awarded the two largest National Science Foundation grants in Winthrop’s history.  These funding awards not only resulted in bringing molecular modeling and high-field NMR technology into the chemistry program, but more importantly put Winthrop University on the map as a national model for undergraduate chemistry education, known for providing students with substantive, integrating, and hands-on experiences with the most modern experimental tools and technologies necessary to investigate important questions in science.

“As a result of countless contributions from so many outstanding individuals, chemistry has been able to recruit some of the nation’s top faculty; they are extremely talented scientists, very motivated, and care most about student learning,” Owens said. “They represent the heart of our program; we can expect tremendous accomplishments in the years ahead.”