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April 20, 2011

Noted chemistry professor and former university dean remembered

Jack Kampmeier

Jack Kampmeier, a professor emeritus of chemistry who was nationally recognized for his innovative approach to teaching, died March 26 following an illness that began with pneumonia. He was 75.

Kampmeier became nationally known for developing the Peer-led Team Learning Workshop model for teaching chemistry. The workshops help students become actively engaged in their own learning by working through problems in a supportive and interactive environment. The concept has been implemented in many departments within the College, serving about one-quarter of Rochester undergraduates annually. It has spread to other schools in the University as well and has been adopted at more than 100 colleges and universities across the country.

“We lost a great and dedicated teacher, the inventor of the peer-led workshop method of teaching, and a stalwart of our programming for new faculty, UR Year One,” says Provost Ralph Kuncl. “As an emeritus professor of chemistry, he helped pass the torch to younger faculty throughout the University. The loss will be deeply and sincerely felt.”

Kampmeier earned his doctorate in chemistry in 1960 from the University of Illinois and came to Rochester that same year. He became a full professor in 1971. Kampmeier served as department chair in chemistry from 1975 to 1979, and as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1988 to 1991.

Kampmeier came to the University to establish a program of teaching and research in organic chemistry with an emphasis on organic reaction and free radical chemistry. His research group did seminal work on the structure and stereochemistry of vinyl radicals, and they developed a powerful mechanistic tool for elucidating the mechanism of radical substitutions at nonsterogenic atoms. Nearly a decade later, his research group turned its attention to organometallic reaction mechanisms.

“Jack Kampmeier embodies the perfect scholar,” says Robert Boeckman Jr., the Marshall D. Gates Jr. Professor of Chemistry and Chair. At the time of Kampmeier’s retirement in 2005, Boeckman described him as “an esteemed colleague, an excellent communicator, a visionary and passionate leader, an untiring advocate for students, and an exemplary citizen of the University community.”

Kampmeier received many teaching awards, including the University’s Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 1974 and the College’s Goergen Award for Distinguished Achievement and Artistry in Undergraduate Teaching in 1999, and he was the corecipient of the 2008 James Flack Norris Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Teaching of Chemistry from the Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society.

Kampmeier is survived by his wife, Anne, and his three children, Scott, Margaret, and Stephen. A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 30, at the Interfaith Chapel on the River Campus.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Jack A. Kampmeier Fund for Peer-led Workshop Education in Chemistry at the University of Rochester, Department of Chemistry, P.O. Box 270216, Rochester, N.Y. 14627.

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