Corvallis couple endows chair honoring Linus Pauling


CORVALLIS - A Corvallis couple has established an academic chair to honor Oregon State University's most famous graduate.

Rosalie and Peter Johnson have pledged a private gift endowment of more than $1 million to establish the Linus Pauling Chair in Chemical Engineering at OSU. Peter Johnson is a 1955 OSU graduate in chemical engineering.

Creation of the chair is part of a long-term plan by the College of Engineering to enhance the quality of educational programs in OSU's Department of Chemical Engineering. The department is going though major program enhancements with emphasis on undergraduate laboratory improvements and chaired positions with academic and applied angles.

The Pauling Chair will bring to the faculty a scholar with a wide range of industry experience, and will focus on bringing real world application to the department's undergraduate program, officials say.

"Faculty with outstanding experience and intellectual excellence are attracted to endowed chairs, and these qualities are then shared with our students, other faculty and with the community," said OSU President Paul Risser. "Such outstanding faculty, with their wisdom and professional achievements, serve as excellent teachers, researchers and mentors.

"I greatly appreciate the support of Peter and Rosalie Johnson, whose gift will enable countless students to be enriched by the knowledge and experience of the faculty member appointed to the Linus Pauling Chair in Chemical Engineering," Risser added.

The gift will allow OSU to maintain its competitive edge, according to Tom West, dean of the College of Engineering.

"In today's competitive educational market, OSU competes with many other institutions for the small number of faculty who meet our highest standards," West said. "This endowed chair represents the most effective means of recruiting and retaining an internationally recognized scholar.

"The College of Engineering is truly grateful to be able to establish the Linus Pauling Chair in Chemical Engineering in commemoration of one of the most honored, outspoken, and productive American scientists of this century," West added. "It is our belief that the name Linus Pauling will proved to be a significant asset in attracting a leader and scholar of Dr. Pauling's stature to serve as a mentor for our faculty and students."

The Johnsons say their gift is an investment.

"Both Rosalie and I believe in the value of education," said Peter Johnson. "This chair, along with our gifts to the OSU chemical laboratory and science and engineering classroom at Ashbrook School, is our way of investing in future students.

"I wanted to fund the Linus Pauling Chair because I feel I received a good, solid education at Oregon State, and Linus Pauling represents the scholarly quality I hope the department will continue to attract among its faculty," he added.

West said establishment of the new chair comes at an important time. As the College of Engineering recruits a new department head, the chair will provide an added incentive as the new head will be able to hire the first holder.

The late Linus Pauling earned his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from OSU in 1922. Pauling, a twice-awarded Nobel Prize winner, and his wife, Ava Helen Pauling, share many recognitions from OSU.

In addition to the new chemical engineering chair in his memory, the university annually hosts the Linus Pauling Lectures in its College of Science; the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Lectures in Peace Studies in the College of Liberal Arts; and retains the scientist's papers, memorabilia and journals in its Pauling Collection.

The Linus Pauling Institute moved to the OSU campus in 1996 to continue its cutting edge scientific and medical research.