John P. Simons, University of Utah chemistry professor, has been selected as the first faculty member to hold the Henry Eyring endowed chair in the U. chemistry department.
The endowment was established to honor the late Dr. Eyring, world renowned scientist and professor who taught at the U. of U. until his death at age 80 in 1981. He is remembered for organizing an annual 50-yard race with his graduate students and ran his last race at age 78, losing as was usual in his later years. But the race continues in the department.With annual interest income provided by the endowment, U. officials say Simons will attract outstanding graduate and undergraduate students interested in pursuing careers in theoretical and computational chemistry. Scholarships and stipends will be offered, and visiting scholars will lecture.
"The chair pays tribute to Henry Eyring's scientific legacy as well as honors one of our own outstanding young scientists," said Richard P. Steiner, executive officer and adjunct chemistry professor. "Simons' work fits perfectly the direction and philosophy of Dr. Eyring."
Simons will continue to teach, write scientific articles and do research. He believes that "professors with fancy titles should teach more and share their knowledge with aspiring young scientists."
Colleagues say Simons sets a departmental standard for teaching excellence and effort. He has received degrees in chemistry, physics and mathematics from Case Institute of Technology and the University of Wisconsin. He was a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before joining the U. faculty.
Other recent honors include a Guggenheim fellowship and an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation fellowship. He was a Camille and Henry Dreyfus fellow, won a David P. Gardner research fellowship and the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science Medal.