Kent State mourns passing of veteran professor

John Milligan

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Celebrated chemistry professor and scientist Edwin Gould passed away Tuesday at the age of 85 in his Kent home.

Gould was a well-known scientist when he started teaching at Kent State in 1967. His textbook “Mechanism and Structure in Organic Chemistry” is regarded as one of the most influential chemistry textbooks used during the ‘60s and ‘70s, said Philip Westerman, senior research associate with the Liquid Crystal Institute.

Westerman said he remembers reading Gould’s textbook while he was still a graduate student in Australia.

“It was the text. Not only was it the standard in Australia but many other countries as well,” Westerman said. “I knew of Edwin Gould before I ever met him.”

Gould went on to win the Distinguished Honors Faculty Teaching Award in 1996 and the Distinguished Scholar Award in 2004. His experimental research in inorganic reaction mechanisms resulted in 213 research articles, and his graduate-level textbooks have been translated into five different languages.

Gould taught honors general chemistry I and II until this past summer when he was forced to retire due to illness.

Michael Tubergen, chair of the chemistry department, said he was always impressed by Gould’s passion for quality undergraduate teaching.

“He was 85 and still an active teacher,” Tubergen said. “It (teaching) kept him going. He had real strength.”

Tubergen said Gould structured his classes to encourage student participation, a method he said students seemed to appreciate.

“He was well received by the students,” he said. “Generally he was a very popular teacher.”

Westerman said Gould’s problem-solving teaching style was ahead of its time.

“He was an inspiration,” Westerman said. “He was just a natural teacher and a remarkable person.“

But Gould’s legacy included much more than teaching and science; he was also a talented violin player and poet, attending annual chamber music workshops and using his free time to write poetry on an old fashioned typewriter.

Arla McPherson, Gould’s administrative secretary for almost 30 years, said she remembers Gould as a very sweet man and a bit of a comedian.

“He was a very brilliant man but he was also down to earth, and he could joke with you,” she said. “He would come in with these jokes that were off the wall and half the time I didn’t get them, but he would think they were the most fun thing.”

Tubergen said he remembers Gould for his unique sense of humor as well as his kind personality.

“He had a good sense of humor, and he liked puns,” Tubergen said. “He was always cheerful, optimistic and a very caring individual. We will miss him.”

A memorial service for Gould will be held in the Kiva Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. followed by a reception celebrating his life in Room 204.

Contact John Milligan at [email protected].