Celebrating 50 years of Chemistry PhDs!

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, May 2013

Fiftieth Anniversary of the PhD Program, 2013


By Glen Pritchard

Graduate Advisor, 1959-1964, 1966-1980

Department Chair, 1972-1980



            Several months ago at the Wednesday afternoon tea-time Rick Dahlquist and Peter Ford asked me as to when the PhD program in Chemistry had actually begun, and was it 1962 or 1963. The latter date is the correct one, and prompted by their enquiry and the recent 39thannual B.R. Baker Memorial Lecture, with Professor Baker’s very significant role in the establishment of the then ongoing program during its first ten years, and in recognition of the department’s outstanding achievements over the past 50 years, it seems appropriate to look back again upon how it all began.

Ten Year Start-Up of the PhD Program

            PhD programs commenced on the campus in 1961 and the program in the Chemistry Department was among the first half-dozen when it was approved by the Regents in March 1963 to begin in the fall of 1963.

            The faculty in the fall of 1963 consisted of ten full-time members. There were fifteen graduate students enrolled, four of whom were admitted as PhD candidates. The remainders were already in, or admitted to, the existing MA program that had begun in 1959. During 1963-64 three of the MA candidates transferred to the new PhD program, three of which were awarded in 1966.

            After this start up, things expanded rapidly, with ten new faculty appointments by 1966, including Professor Baker, with more to follow, so that by 1968 there were twenty-five full-time faculty members. The graduate program grew at a similarly accelerating rate with a banner recruitment year of forty-four entering students for the fall quarter of 1968, when the enrollment topped out more than one hundred graduate students. By 1973, and ten years from the start-up of the program, just over one hundred PhDs in Chemistry had been awarded. For the academic year 1973-74, UCSB’s Chemistry Department was cited in theChemical and Engineering News list of the “top” PhD producers in the nations, with twenty awards in Chemistry.

            Professor Baker, in his five brief years in the department from 1966-71, was responsible for the direction of a remarkable fifteen of the first one hundred PhD students graduated through 1973, when his last three students finished up all of the requirements for their degrees.

Chemistry Building Lobby/Foyer

Happy 50th Anniversary Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry!