MSU establishes first endowed chair with $1.25 million gift

Montclair State University has received a $1.25 million gift to endow the University's first named professorship. The Margaret and Herman Sokol Chair in Chemistry is the first endowed chair established by a graduate at a New Jersey public comprehensive university.

In creating the chair, Margaret McCormack Sokol, a member of the class of 1938, provided one of the largest gifts ever received by the University in its 90-year history. The chair is named for Mrs. Sokol and her husband, Dr. Herman Sokol, also an alumnus, who was instrumental in discovering the antibiotic tetracycline in the early 1950s. "I consider this gift a very sound investment in the future of higher education," Mrs. Sokol said. "It recognizes the excellence of the faculty and the science programs at Montclair State University and will help guarantee the best possible education for generations of University students, today and well into the future."

Margaret and Herman Sokol met at Montclair State while both were students. Herman Sokol graduated in 1937 and went on to earn a doctoral degree. Dr. Sokol was a research chemist and industrialist. He developed the basic processes for tetracycline manufacture, which are used throughout the world. He served as president of the Bristol-Myers Company from 1976 until his retirement in 1981. Dr. and Mrs. Sokol were both awarded honorary degrees by the University, she in 1992 and he in 1982.

While at Montclair State, Margaret Sokol was a science major who participated in a broad range of student activities including dance, journalism and athletics. Following graduation, she went on to teach mathematics and science in the public schools. She has traveled extensively and is a generous supporter of the arts, cancer research, education and the sciences.

According to Dr. Susan A. Cole, president of Montclair State, the University will initiate a national search for a scientist/teacher to be appointed to the endowed chair. "The Margaret and Herman Sokol Chair in Chemistry will be dedicated to an outstanding scientist and teacher who has the potential to make profound contributions to chemistry and to the development of students as scientists," Dr. Cole said.

"We will be seeking a scholar in the early stages of his or her career who is prepared to develop a vigorous research and teaching program in the applications of chemistry to the study of living systems," Dr. Cole said. "The Sokol scholar will be joining an already strong faculty in a well-established program." The University's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is recognized nationally by the American Chemical Society and offers baccalaureate and master's degrees.

The Margaret and Herman Sokol professor will occupy a modern laboratory in the University's newly constructed Science Hall, a 60,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art science complex slated to open in September 1999.

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