Established in 1988, this chair in chemistry was made possible with estate gifts from two friends of the college who shared a life-long career in chemistry. Edolph A. Larson ’14, a member of the St. Olaf Band under F. M. Christiansen and a generous contributor to several St. Olaf funds, taught chemistry at Joliet Junior College in Illinois. Truman E. Anderson, an active Lutheran layman and member of the St. Olaf Board of Regents from 1962 to 1972, was a pioneer in developing ethical standards for the oil and gas industry. Previous holders of this chair are Wesley A. Pearson ’54, Gary O. Spessard, and Dr. Gary Miessler.
Professor Mary M. Walczak was appointed as Assistant Professor of Chemistry in 1992, advancing to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure in 1998. She was promoted to the rank of Professor in 2009. A specialist in organic chemistry, Walczak has taught at all levels of the curriculum. She has mentored 28 research students and internships.
Walczak’s publications and presentations range from those pertaining to primary research in Chemistry, to student learning assessment and the impact of educational spaces on student perceptions of science and student learning. A recipient of many external grants, she has also served on five NSF grant review panels and helps write exam questions for the national exams administered through the American Chemical Society. Committed to expanding access in the sciences to under-represented students, she is currently a participant in a national project with representatives from several leading liberal arts colleges exploring “Blended, Scalable, Just-in-Time Mathematics Remediation to Improve STEM Degree Completion by Underrepresented, Underprepared and Low-Income Students.”
In addition to serving as chair of the Department of Chemistry on three different occasions, Professor Walczak has also served as director of the Center for Undergraduate Research and Inquiry, director of Assessment and Evaluation, and Faculty Observer to the Board of Regents. She is currently serving as Associate Dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics