'He Was a Born Teacher'

Former Chemistry Professor David Green, '64, Dies in Auto Accident

Note: The funeral is set for 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 16, in Downers Grove, Ill., at the First United Methodist Church, 1032 Maple Avenue, Downers Grove; 630-968-7120. At a future date, an on-campus memorial service will be held to celebrate the life and legacy of David Green. The family has requested that cards be sent to the Green and O'Connell families in care of the Albion College Alumni Office, 611 E. Porter Street, Albion MI 49224. Please see below for information regarding memorial contributions to the David Green Chemistry Scholarship.

{mosimage}David William Green, ’64, the beloved chemistry professor who endeared himself to his students by working with them well into the early hours of the morning, was killed in an automobile accident Saturday, Oct. 27, on M-60 in Branch County. He was 64.

Green's daughter Brenda Green O'Connell, '99, and her husband, Patrick O'Connell, '99, also were injured in the accident and were treated at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo.

Green enjoyed a successful 30-year career at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory—during which he eventually became the manager of the analytical chemistry laboratories in Argonne's chemical technology division--before returning to Albion to teach in 2001, his third stint on the faculty.

“He taught me to love chemistry,” said Emily Carvill, ’05, a chemistry major from Grand Blanc, Mich., who is applying to physician assistant programs. “Regardless of how you were doing, he always had a way of making you love it.”

Carvill, who served as a teaching assistant for Green’s analytical chemistry course, said that the professor had a knack for knowing when his students were anxious or stressed. Carvill remembered Green often eased the tension students were feeling with a joke, witty comeback, or even chocolate.

“He made you feel at ease about even the most stressful things,” she said.

As a faculty member, he was Phi Beta Kappa president and member, involved with the Project 250 Awards committee, and served on the visiting committees of the Carl A. Gerstacker Liberal Arts Institute in Professional Management and the Institute for the Study of the Environment. In addition, he was a Foundation for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (FURSCA) faculty mentor to at least 15 Albion students.

Green retired from Albion in 2006 after teaching a total of seven years. He frequently returned to campus to attend sporting events, visit with students and colleagues, and dine with “The Married Bachelors,” a small group of faculty and staff.

Students, alums, faculty and staff mourned Green’s death this weekend in the science complex and across campus, as well as via emails, telephone calls, and instant messaging. Students and faculty today (Oct. 29) donned the green T-shirts designed by Jenna Orr, ’07, and Rachel Lippert, ’08, for Green’s retirement party in 2006, at which more than 100 of Green’s students and colleagues feted their friend and mentor.

“When he retired it devastated me and some of the other students because he wasn’t going to be here,” Lippert said. “This is a hundred times worse.”

Assistant professor of chemistry Vanessa McCaffrey, along with her colleagues, created the chemistry department's Web page devoted to Green this weekend. She remembered Green as a colleague dedicated to bringing out the best in students and faculty.

“I always aspired to be just like Dave,” she said. “He was so genuinely interested in everything students did—not simply what they did at Albion College, but what they did beyond Albion College. He had the knack of asking the one question of a student who would then just sit down and tell him their life story. He didn’t just show the interest in the laboratory, but he would go to the basketball games, go to the dance recitals, the plays.

“He really wanted to help people achieve the best that they could in everything they wanted to.”

An inveterate Facebook user, Green remained in contact with many students and friends through the online networking program. Messages to Green continue to be left on his “wall” http://albion.facebook.com/profile.php?id=36202714

This Facebook message, from student Steven Schluentz, ’08, is typical of the outpouring:

“Dr. Green, I have one last puzzle for you.... Who was the most inspirational man I have ever met, would do anything to help a student, and found a way to keep everything light hearted? That’s right, you. Words cannot describe the admiration I have for you. You taught me so much, not just about chemistry but about life. You taught me to have passion for whatever you do and your passion for chemistry, your family, and helping others is immeasurable. You will be deeply missed.”

In an interview for Io Triumphe alumni magazine upon his retirement, Green talked about making a difference. “I think Albion for the most part has really good students,” he said. “I am very sympathetic to students who like to learn and are willing to work at it. In five years I have gotten to know a lot of students. I enjoy teaching the introductory course—you can make a difference in helping students get on the right track in that course. I think it’s rewarding to make a difference in someone’s maturing process as they try and navigate the challenges of college.”

Anjali Arora, a 2004 graduate finishing her medical degree at the University of Michigan, was a two-time FURSCA summer research student with Green who also worked on her research with him over three academic years.

"It was a great experience working with him," she said. "He was more than just a teacher or a mentor. He became part of my family. I worked with him for so long, he would do anything to help me or any other student. I will never forget that, or him."

As an Albion College student, Green was active in Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE), where he was president for a year-and-a-half, as well as the Chemistry Club, the Physics Club and many other organizations. He was the first recipient of the Putnam Award, given to the chemistry student with the most outstanding record at the end of their second year.

Upon graduating, Green earned his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley, where he studied with Professor Leo Brewer. Following Berkeley, he was a postdoctoral research assistant with Nobel Laureate Robert Mullikan at the University of Chicago. After his postdoc, he returned to Albion to pursue his passion of teaching.

He was an adjunct professor at Albion College during the fall semester of 1971. He left the College for a job at Argonne as an analytical chemist--during which time he earned an MBA from the University of Chicago's Executive MBA program--but returned to Albion several times as an adjunct professor in 1973-1974 and, most recently, 2001-2006.

Green served for many years editor of ALMA, the journal of the Analytical Laboratory Manager's Association and was named that organization’s first Outstanding Lab Manager of the Year in 2005. Before returning to Albion, Green also was a member and president of the DuPage County District 58 Board of Education in Downers Grove, Ill. He had recently assufmed the executive director’s position for ALMA.

Martin Ludington, ’64, professor emeritus of physics and a TKE housemate of Green’s during their student days, recalled that Green was a “tremendous” leader on campus.

“As a student, he was as much more a math student—he loved mathematics,” Ludington nofted.

Ludington, who retired in 2005, remembered Green as a strong and driven athlete, smaller in stature than many varsity athletes, which led to Green’s dominance of intramural games.

“He was just amazing as an athlete,” Ludington said. “He wasn’t big enough to be a varsity athlete, but in intramurals he was a terror. He made up for it in motivation and drive. He also had a real passion for golf.”

Robert Dininny, professor emeritus of chemistry who retired in 1995, recalled that Green was in his very first physical chemistry course during Green’s junior year. Dininny remembered Green as bright “without one bit of arrogance about that brightness.”

“He was just an absolute delight to have in class,” Dininny said. “I really felt that I learned more from him that he learned from me. He really was a self-starter—you just pointed him in the right direction and let him go.”

Dininny recalled using a new book for the “p-chem” course. Nearly each week, Green would leave a piece of paper on Dininny’s desk where he had reworked a problem that was done incorrectly in the book.

Dininny commented on Green’s playfulness, remembering the laws of thermodynamics that Green created in addition to the existing three. He recalled his favorite as, ‘It is impossible to pass physical chemistry unless W is greater than Q. W is the work done by the student, and Q is the heat put on by the professor.’”

Another law centered on the state of Dininny’s small laboratory as the semester progressed:

“As the time left in the semester approaches zero, the entropy in the lab increases without limit.”

Years later, as a sabbatical replacement for chemistry professor Daniel Steffenson, Green was using a new book in which the California author had promised readers that he would pay 50 cents for each error corrected in the book. Periodically, Dininny recalled, Green would ship off errors that his students found.

“A few weeks later they would get a nice check from California, and they would go downtown for a pizza party,” Dininny recalled. “He really got students invested in it that way.”

Ludington called Green “tremendous as a science colleague,” the person many other scientists went to with their chemistry questions. “He was a born teacher—not only did he know the subject, he could explain it to you.”

When Green was able to show students “those toys” in the Herbert H. and Grace a Dow Analytical Science Laboratory, Ludington said Green’s face always lit up.

“It was as if they built the Dow Lab for him!”

Carvill recalled a professor dedicated to helping students at all hours and going the extra mile—even for those who were not in his classes.

“Whatever you needed of him, he was willing to do it,” she said. “He nominated me for an undergraduate award from the American Chemical Society Division of Analytical Chemistry, and I wasn’t even his own research student. I was so honored that he chose me. I got it in the spring of 2004.”

Carvill described countless evenings spent on the first floor of Putnam Hall outside Green's office with dozens of other students.

“It was a revolving door, somebody would go out, another would go in, and we would be there until 1 or 2 in the morning until he had helped all of us.”

“He was an amazing professor, and a great friend and a great man,” Carvill said. “Nobody will ever replace him.”

Green is survived by his wife, Sally McCullough Green, '66; daughters Laura and Brenda; sons Mark, Brian, and William, '05; and his mother, Dorotha Onweller Green, '38.

A gathering in support of the Green and O'Connell families was held at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1, in Towsley Lecture Hall/Norris 101. Students, colleaugues, and alumni spoke about Green's impact on thier lives, their careers and students and teachers, and on the College. Will Green also shared stories and thoughts about his father.  

At a future date the College will host a more formal service in conjunction with the family to celebrate Green's life and legacy. The funeral is set for 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 16, in Downers Grove, Ill., at the First United Methodist Church, 1032 Maple Avenue, Downers Grove; 630-968-7120. 

Memorial contributions:

The David Green Chemistry Scholarship has been established at Albion College by the Green family. Contributions may be made payable to Albion College (memo: David Green) and mailed to Albion College, 611 E. Porter Street, Albion, MI 49224. Contributions may also be made at the College's online giving site. For more information regarding the scholarship fund, please email the Institutional Advancement office at .