University of Rochester

EVENT: Retiring Chemist and Former Dean Honored For 45-Year Tenure

June 7, 2005

Jack Kampmeier, professor of chemistry, was honored on June 3 for his many accomplishments at the University of Rochester. Kampmeier has been part of the campus for 45 years, serving as a dedicated scientist, an innovative teacher who brought a new system of learning to the University, chair of the Department of Chemistry, and dean of the College of Arts and Science. A symposium and reception commemorated both his 70th birthday and his retirement from the department.

“Kampmeier embodies the perfect scholar,” says Robert Boeckman, Jr. chair of the Department of Chemistry and Marshall D. Gates, Jr. Professor of Chemistry. “Jack is 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 came to the University of Rochester in 1960 to establish a program of teaching and research in organic chemistry with an emphasis on organic reaction and free radical chemistry. His leadership in undergraduate teaching was first recognized in 1974 when he received the College’s Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching for his role in revising the undergraduate curriculum in the department.

Kampmeier chaired the Department of Chemistry from 1975 to 1979, served as associate dean for graduate studies from 1982 to 1985, and dean of the College of Arts and Science from 1988 to 1991. In 1999, he received the College’s Goergen Award for Distinguished Achievement and Artistry in Undergraduate Teaching, as he entered his 40th year as an instructor. In 1999, he was also the recipient of the Chemical Manufacturers’ Association Catalyst Award for Excellence in Science Teaching. Except for two sabbaticals, as National Science Foundation Faculty Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley (1971-1972) and as Fulbright Senior Research Scholar at the Albert Ludwigs Universität Freiburg, Germany, Kampmeier has been a fixture on the University campus.

During the past 10 years of his career, he worked with colleagues locally and nationally to develop the Peer-led Team Learning (PLTL) Workshop method to actively engage students in their own learning. The workshops are a system of two hour-long meetings each week where students work with their peers and a graduate student leader. The leader acts as a facilitator, not an answer-giver. The students are expected to work through the workshop problems as a group and the leaders are trained to make the students comfortable enough to ask questions and confront things they don’t understand. Simple props, such as yo-yos or basketballs, reinforce concepts in a way that lectures and standard problems cannot.

Kampmeier and Vicki Roth, director of learning assistance services, introduced the workshop model to Rochester in his course in organic chemistry in 1995. Kampmeier strongly supported the implementation of this model in other courses, institutions and disciplines as a superior way to help students learn. The PLTL Workshop has since been adopted by several other departments in the College and at many other colleges and universities, extending Kampmeier’s influence beyond his Rochester classroom and laboratory to alter the learning environment of the College and the country.

The workshop has been bolstered with the creation of the Jack A. Kampmeier Fund for Peer-led Workshop Education in Chemistry—a fund started by the Kampmeier family in January. The income for this fund will be used to support initiatives that extend and strengthen the Peer-led Workshop program in the Department of Chemistry. For example, the fund might support: an annual conference to improve the education of students for peer-leadership; initiatives to extend the peer-led workshop model of teaching to other courses in chemistry, including graduate and laboratory courses; support for faculty and leaders to work together to develop and improve materials for peer-led workshops; support for research on the peer-led workshop model.