Jack Kampmeier was the first faculty member I met when I visited Rochester to interview for a faculty position nearly 30 years ago. I distinctly remember two things about our meeting. First, Jack was extraordinarily friendly. Second, he showed a genuine interest in me.
In the years that followed, I came to recognize that Jack had a deep curiosity about everyone and everything. He believed that you could learn something from everyone and thought one should never pass up a new opportunity to learn.
Jack, who passed away in March after a brief illness at age 75, loved the University and worked tirelessly on behalf of its students for over 50 years in a variety of roles: professor of chemistry, chairman of the Department of Chemistry, associate dean for graduate studies, and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
After arriving at Rochester in 1960, Jack quickly established an outstanding research program in the emerging field of organic free radical chemistry. Later, his group did groundbreaking research in organometallic chemistry. A hallmark of Jack’s research was the clarity, intellectual rigor, and imagination that he brought to contemporary problems in chemistry.
Jack became nationally known for his efforts to develop and disseminate a pioneering educational initiative, Peer Led Team Learning. In this learning model, students meet in small workshop groups each week under the guidance of a peer leader to work on specially designed problems that actively engage them in discussion and debate. Students thrive in workshops because they provide them a supportive place to express their ideas, test their opinions, and construct their own views on the subject material. Jack was an evangelist for the workshop model, both here at Rochester and across the country.
Throughout my career Jack was a mentor to me and I could not have imagined anyone better. I never missed an opportunity to share ideas with Jack, because he showed such delight in hearing them and invariably offered insightful suggestions.
Jack firmly believed that a university should not differentiate between research and teaching. As he liked to say, “one should do the best possible research because that’s the best way to teach.” Jack also believed that universities should educate everyone—in his words, “from freshman to postdoc.” I liked to kid him that he sold himself short with that phrase because, based on my experience, it should have been “from freshman to faculty member.”
Jack left an indelible mark on me, as he did with many others. We are fortunate to have known him as a teacher, colleague, and friend.
Dinnocenzo is a professor of chemistry at the University.