An historic shot of the monumental staircase at the west entrance of the Texas A&M University Chemistry Building. (Credit: Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M University.)


History remembers legendary Texas Aggie Gen. James Earl Rudder '32 for many fearless factors, from his commanding leadership of his Rudder Rangers at Pointe du Hoc during the critical 1944 D-Day invasion of Normandy, to his controversial 1963 decision as president of Texas A&M University to admit women to the formerly all-male institution.

As the architect of the modern-day Texas A&M, Rudder made another significant call in 1966 that changed the course for one of the university's most esteemed present-day academic departments -- chemistry -- recruiting inorganic chemist Dr. Arthur E. Martell to blaze new trails as head of the department by expanding and enhancing its teaching and research programs.

Five decades later, the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry plans to reflect on Martell's legacy and that of four subsequently pioneering professors as part of a yearlong celebration commemorating 50 years of chemistry excellence. The celebration, structured around a series of five "excellence events" paying tribute to key professors -- each of whom defined specific branches of chemistry at Texas A&M and within the chemical sciences -- kicks off next month with the October 14 A.E. Martell Symposium for Inorganic Chemistry. The inaugural event will coincide with the department's 29th annual Chemistry Open House and Science Exploration Gallery, scheduled for October 15 as part of National Chemistry Week.

"The Department of Chemistry invites all audiences -- from current and former students and staff, to members of the broader scientific community and Aggie family -- to join us as we celebrate the transformation of our department due to the leadership of Arthur Martell," said Dr. Simon W. North, professor and head of Texas A&M Chemistry. "Martell was a pioneer in the field of chelate metal compounds and an internationally known researcher who received the American Chemical Society Award for Distinguished Service to Inorganic Chemistry. His unique combination of scientific reputation, clarity of vision and strength of character enabled him to attract the brightest faculty and the necessary critical resources to the department.

"Texas A&M Chemistry owes its current state of national prominence to Martell, who is a seminal figure in both our past and our present. Fifty years after his arrival, we are a research and teaching operation ranked among the top 20 Ph.D.-granting institutions in the United States. We have more than 300 chemistry majors, 270 graduate students and in excess of $15 million per year in research grants and contracts. We have much to celebrate, and these symposia recognize some of the important faculty who have made a significant contribution to the elevation of our program."

Martell served as head of Texas A&M Chemistry until 1980. By the end of his tenure, he had expanded the faculty by 30 to 55 tenured/tenure-track professionals and attracted many well-known researchers to the department, including MIT inorganic chemist Dr. F. Albert Cotton in 1972 and Yale bio-organic chemist Dr. A. Ian Scott in 1977. The number of undergraduate chemistry majors tripled, while the number of graduate students quadrupled. The Chemistry Building's Room 100 is named the Arthur E. Martell Lecture Hall in his honor, serving as the site of introductory chemistry and educational outreach experiences across countless generations, including a new one set to attend this year's Chemistry Open House.

"Fifty years ago, Texas A&M established a road map to excellence that ultimately transformed the face of our department," said Dr. François P. Gabbaï, professor and former head of Texas A&M Chemistry and holder of the Arthur E. Martell Endowed Chair in Chemistry. "Given that Dr. Martell was the cornerstone of that initiative, it's fitting that we honor him with our first event celebrating the successes of all our former students and postdoctoral fellows. The day will feature a series of talks presented by multiple speakers, all of whom spent time in our department as students or as postdoctoral fellows."

The complete list of 50 Years of Chemistry Excellence events is as follows:

For detailed symposia information and to RSVP for any or all of these free events, please visit http://www.chem.tamu.edu/50years/.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. Simon W. North, (979) 845-2384 or 50years@chem.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • File photograph of the Texas A&M Chemistry Building, circa 1960s as it would have appeared when Dr. Arthur E. Martell arrived in Aggieland. (Credit: Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M University.)

  • Dr. Arthur E. Martell in his department head office. (Credit: Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M University.)

  • Martell (right), pictured with two of his signature hires (from left) Dr. F. Albert Cotton and Dr. A. Ian Scott. (Credit: Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M University.)

  • A past class in Arthur E. Martell Lecture Hall. (Credit: Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M University.)

© Texas A&M University. To request use of any of our photographs for educational use or to view additional options from our archive, please contact the College of Science Communications Office.

College of Science
517 Blocker
TAMU 3257 | 979-845-7361
Site Policies
Contact Webmaster
Social Media