In Memoriam: Tom Dunne

It’s with great sadness that we report the passing of emeritus chemistry professor Tom Dunne [Reed 1963-1995] on 5 April 2020. Tom’s career spanned three major epochs of Reed chemistry. As a young faculty member he overlapped with Prof. Arthur Scott [1923-1979], who is closely associated with the early growth of Reed Chemistry, and through most of his 30+ year career Tom worked alongside Prof. John Hancock [1955-1989] and Marsh Cronyn ’40 [1952-1989], overseeing the development of the program that informs our curriculum to this day. Then towards the end of his career at Reed, Tom welcomed in a group of junior faculty that includes a few of us still active today (Dan Gerrity [1987-], Arthur Glasfeld [1989-], and Alan Shusterman [1989-]), helped break ground on our “new” building in 1992, and introduced environmental chemistry into our curriculum, planting the seeds for the modern ES-Chemistry major.

Tom’s childhood in the Mojave Desert prepared him well for a life in Chemistry. He grew up in Westend, a tiny company town associated with borax mining. He left home to attend UCLA, and then moved up the coast to pursue a PhD in physical chemistry at the University of Washington, before moving east to start his professional career at IBM. Temperamentally, Tom was always destined to be an academic. After a short stay at IBM, he left to join Prof. Albert Cotton’s lab at MIT as a postdoc and retrained as an inorganic chemist, before taking up his Reed position in the Fall of 1963.

Tom was ferociously dedicated to Reed students and made a lasting contribution to many he taught or mentored in thesis over the years. A Dunne lectureship was instituted by one of his former academic advisees in acknowledgment of Tom’s exceptional service, and that lectureship provided a terrific opportunity for the department to celebrate the many outstanding chemists who Tom influenced during their Reed careers. He was also committed to the chemistry community of Portland and the Pacific Northwest and worked tirelessly on behalf of the local American Chemical Society section.

After the 2018 Dunne lecture: from L, Alan Shusterman, Ron Sato, Arthur Glasfeld (back row), Juliane Fry, Tom Dunne, Mary Johansson ’91 (2018 Dunne lecturer), Miriam Bowring (front)

In retirement, Tom was an active member of the department until 2006, when he mentored his last thesis student. Nevertheless, he remained closely attached to the Reed community for all of the years that he was able. His reminiscences, told with fondness and wit, have kept those of us currently teaching in the department attached to its past and mindful of the many wonderful students who walked the hallways before we arrived. His contributions to Reed and to the larger community have been enormous and won’t soon be forgotten. – Arthur Glasfeld

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