A chemistry lab on the third floor of the Science Building at Lawrence Technological University has been dedicated to Jerry Crist, who is now a professor emeritus of chemistry after his retirement in December.
The lab in S309 was named in his honor at a Jan. 21 dedication ceremony led by LTU’s Arts and Sciences Dean Hsiao-Ping Moore. LTU President Virinder Moudgil, President Emeritus Richard Marburger, faculty members, and alumni spoke about Crist’s impact on the university and the lives of thousands of students during his 45-year career at LTU.
The plaque mounted at the entrance of the chemistry lab reads in part:
“Dr. Crist’s 45 years of distinguished service to the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Natural Sciences, the University Scholarship Committee, and the students of Lawrence Technological University were marked by teaching excellence, life-changing student mentoring, exemplary leadership, outstanding services, and unwavering dedication.”
Crist joined the Lawrence Tech faculty in 1968 after earning his PhD in chemistry at the Ohio State University. One of his first projects was to help design the new chemistry curriculum as the program evolved to what was initially a stand-alone department.
For many years Crist chaired LTU’s Department of Chemistry and then the Department of Natural Sciences. He served as interim dean of students from 2001-03.
He was the faculty advisor who started the LTU Student Affiliate Chapter of the American Chemical Society. He was also faculty advisor to the University’s Honor Society, Lambda Iota Tau.
For the past 20 years Crist chaired the University Scholarship Committee. “Knowing the need for scholarships would always outstrip the funds available, Dr. Crist took the scholarship review process to heart, working diligently with the scholarship committee to help as many students as they could,” Moudgil said.
In 2009, he received Lawrence Tech’s Henry B. and Barbara J. Horldt Excellence in Teaching Award .
Last year LTU alumnus Daniel Johnson anonymously established an endowed scholarship in Crist’s name, and this year another anonymous alumnus offered to match contributions to the fund up to $10,000. “Dr. Crist played a pivotal role in helping me thrive as an LTU student, and it is my privilege to give back in a way that honors such a special man,” the anonymous donor said in setting up the challenge grant.
Johnson, who came from Maryland to attend the dedication ceremony, took advantage of the occasion to identify himself as the first anonymous donor. He called Crist “a rock and inspiration to students.”
After graduating from Lawrence Tech with dual majors in physics and mathematics and computer science, Johnson earned his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan.
Johnson has more than 37 years of experience in the research and development of new sensors, machines, vehicles, aircraft and spacecraft. He is a consulting engineer in the Systems Engineering group at Northrop Grumman and previously was technical director of Lockheed Martin Unmanned Systems.
At the dedication ceremony he said that his successful career would not have happened without the guidance and personal attention he received from Crist.
LTU College Professor Nicole Villeneuve, an LTU alumna who now teaches chemistry, told the group that the standards Crist set for academic achievement provided the guidance she needed for a successful college career.
Moudgil noted that Crist’s positive influence on his students extended far beyond setting high standards for academic achievement. He also served as a mentor to
countless students and went beyond that role by nurturing students through his involvement with the scholarship committee.
Keith Nagara, director of the transportation design program in the College of Architecture and Design, spoke of the positive influence that Crist had on students as chair of the University Scholarship Committee.
Provost Maria Vaz, Moore, and Associate Professor Shannon Timmons all spoke about the help they received from Crist when they were new members of the faculty.After the event, Moore summed up: “As a parent, I understand how profoundly a great teacher can impact the life and career of a student. Professor Crist is one of those exceptional teachers whose life and career are an inspiration to our students and to all of us as educators. Dedicating a lab to a professor is a rare event. Dr. Crist is that rare professor for whom this dedication is fitting and appropriate. We are proud to have been able to honor him in this way.”