Rod Library--Special Collections
Leland L. Wilson
FORMER HEAD OF UNI CHEMISTRY DEPARTMENT TO RETIRE
Dr. Leland Wilson, professor of chemistry and former head of the University of Northern Iowa's Department of Chemistry, will be honored by the Department Saturday (May 12) at a retirement dinner. He and his wife, Margaret, will also be guests of honor at a public reception from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday (May 13) in the Georgian Lounge of the Commons Building.
Wilson, who was head of the Department from 1968, when it first came into existence, to 1975, will retire at the end of May after having served twenty-four years on the faculty. He will be 65 in June.
He said there were many reasons for his decision to retire.
"There are a lot of things I want to do that a restricted schedule doesn't allow," according to Wilson. He also added, "I don't want to hang on here to the point I can't challenge the students." Wilson stressed he wasn't implying other teachers had stayed on past their usefulness.
Both he and his wife will be leaving Cedar Falls for Lexington, Kentucky, where Wilson said he will probably become a student again. Wilson, who was raised in Eastern Kentucky, explained, "I want to be near a university and the University of Kentucky is in Lexington. ''
The University of Kentucky also has two other benefits. Anyone who is 65 or older can study anything at the University of Kentucky free of charge; and one of Wilson's daughters, Mary Sue Coleman, a biochemist, is on the faculty there; so is her husband. Wilson is also proud of his other daughters. Nancy Asbach, who lives in Bertha, Colorado, is a doctor, and Rebecca Brunswig, Tribune, Kansas, is a lawyer.
Wilson said he'd like to take courses in economics at the University of Kentucky.
"I've never had an opportunity to pursue that," he remarked. His retirement will also offer him more time for hobbies such as furniture making and growing roses. Travel is another consideration.
"We do enjoy traveling. I'd really like to go back to India if I could," Wilson said. He taught the summer of 1966 at the University of Poona, southeast of Bombay.
Wilson explained he and his wife's decision to move to Kentucky was not a reflection on Cedar Falls.
"I have a very positive and strong feeling for Iowa. It's been very good for me. Cedar Falls is a tremendous place to raise a family. We look forward to going to a new place and meeting new people. There's a tendency to settle down in some comfortable rut and not make the effort to meet new people," Wilson said.
Wilson has a bachelor's degree from Eastern Kentucky State College and a master's degree from the University of Kentucky. He received a doctorate degree at George Peabody College, with a cooperative program at Vanderbilt University.
Before coming to UNI he taught in high schools in Kentucky and Florida and at Eastern Kentucky State College and Georgia Teachers College.
While Wilson was head of the Department of Chemistry at UNI, the department's undergraduate curriculum was accredited by the American Chemical Society, of which Wilson is a member. A student affiliate chapter of ACE was also begun on campus.
Wilson began the first Citizens' Workshops on Energy and the Environment at UNI in 1975 and continued as director for the workshops until this year. He was a consultant at the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies in 1974-75, dealing with the energy workshop program. The workshops at UNI have been sponsored by the United States Department of Energy and made available through the UNI College of Natural Sciences.
"We initiated a very active program of seminars in chemistry and greatly expanded our undergraduate program," he said of the Department's early years.
The Department has expanded since its formation in 1968 from the Department of Science, which included physics, earth science, and chemistry when UNI was still SCI (State College of Iowa).
Before chemistry had its own department, students visited the Argonne National Laboratory to learn about modern equipment, Wilson explained.
Wilson served one term as a director of the Central States Universities, Inc., a group of Midwest universities which use the Argonne National Laboratory. He has also been on the board of directors of the Iowa Academy of Science.
"What stands out in my memory here is my association with the students in this department. It's been a tremendous experience. I feel we've been extremely fortunate in this department. Although it's not a big one, our students have done exceedingly well," Wilson stated.
Waterloo Courier, July 20, 1993, A6.
Leland L. Wilson, formerly of Cedar Falls, died Friday, July 16, 1993, at North Colorado Medical Center, Greeley, of natural causes.
He was born June 13, 1914, in Williamsburg, Kentucky, son of Albert and Susan Stinson Wilson. He married Margaret Elizabeth Harvin on June 4,1938, in Quincy, Florida.
Dr. Wilson received his bachelor of science degree in 1934 from Eastern Kentucky University and taught high school science. He received his master of science degree from the University of Kentucky in 1941 and served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theater during World War ll.
From 1946 to 1950 he taught at the Eastern Kentucky University Model High School and received his doctorate in physics from George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in 1951. He was professor of physics and chemistry for three years at Georgia Teachers College in Statesboro, Georgia, and professor of chemistry and department chair at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls during a twenty-four year period.
He co-authored two undergraduate science textbooks, and in 1974 was named a Centennial Outstanding Alumnus of Eastern Kentucky University. Among his professional awards are listings in Who's Who in America and American Men of Science; Outstanding Educator of America Awards, 1974 and 1975; and the UNI Dean's Award for Superior Achievement as a faculty member, 1979. In 1980, he was granted the Distinguished Service Award of the Iowa Academy of Science.
Survivors include his wife; three daughters, Nancy Ashbach of Loveland, Rebecca Brunswig of Greeley, and Mary Sue Coleman of Albuquerque, New Mexico; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; a brother, Gilbert of Boston Massachusetts; and a sister, Lorene Wilson Reynolds of Huntsville, Alabama; preceded in death by a brother, Samuel; and two sisters, Hazel Noland and Doris Pepper.
Services were 11:30 a.m. today at All-Saints Episcopal Church, with burial in Loveland Burial Park, both in Loveland. Kibbey-Fishburn Funeral Home, Loveland, was in charge of arrangements.
Memorials may be given to Habitat for Humanity.
Copyright, Waterloo Courier, 1993.