ORVILLE L. CHAPMAN

 

 

June 26, 1932 – January 22, 2004

 

         Orville L. Chapman was born on June 26, 1932, in New London, Connecticut. The son of a Naval officer, he grew up in several cities in the United States and Central America. He attended high school in San Diego and received his undergraduate degree at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Virginia with a double major in Chemistry and English. Orville received his Ph.D. with Jerrold Meinwald at Cornell University in 1957. He became an Instructor at Iowa State in 1957 and moved up the ranks to Professor in 1964. Orville was an early pioneer in the emerging field of organic photochemistry.

         Chapman moved from Iowa State to UCLA in 1974, on the heels of his exciting successes in applying matrix isolation spectroscopy to the characterization of cyclobutadiene and benzyne. The years 1975-85 were an extremely productive period for the investigation of a wide variety of organic reactive intermediates: carbenes, nitrenes, propadienones, silenes, carbonyl oxides, strained alkynes, etc. At UCLA, Orville's ideas concerning the novel molecule, C60, germinated in 1980, and in 1981 he initiated efforts directed at the chemical synthesis of C60. This work was but one part of a new effort in the synthesis and characterization of various types of strained, non-planar aromatic compounds. In retrospect, these efforts are now recognized as pioneering contributions to materials chemistry.

         In 1984, Orville and his colleague, Arlene Russell, formed a company that offered in-house short courses in technical writing. They continued their collaboration in the production of a laser videodisc for teaching NMR spectroscopy and in pioneering the use of 13C NMR spectroscopy as a method for introducing the topic of organic chemistry. This was the first effort in Orville's emerging interest in revamping the undergraduate curriculum using technology. In 1989, he became Associate Dean for Educational Innovation at UCLA, a position that he held until his death. In 1995, Orville spearheaded an NSF-funded systemic reform project, which led to a widely-adopted, computer-based instructional program for managing writing and peer review in large undergraduate classes.

         Chapman received many national and international awards, including the Pure Chemistry Award and the Arthur C. Cope Medal from the American Chemical Society, the Havinga Medal from the Stichtung Havinga, Leiden, the Netherlands, and the Texas Instruments Foundation Founders' Prize. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1974. Professor Chapman received the ComputerWorld Smithsonian Institute Award for the best use of computers in education and academia in 1995. He was a long-term consultant for Mobil Chemical, and was involved in the invention of a significant number of their processes.

         Professor Chapman was internationally recognized as a brilliant, creative scholar and an intellectual leader in various fields of endeavor. He was a trailblazer and innovator in photochemistry, matrix isolation spectroscopy, reaction intermediates, chemical communication, the mechanism of olfactory perception, polymers, and materials design. He also achieved a worldwide reputation for bringing the best of information technology to higher education.

         Orville is survived by his mother, Mabel; his wife, Susan; his two sons, Kevin and Kenneth; and three grandsons, David, Daniel, and Timothy.

A memorial service followed by a reception will be held on Saturday, February 21, 2004 at 2:30 PM at Westwood Presbyterian Church, 10822 Wilshire Boulevard, Westwood.  In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can be made to “UCLA Foundation/Orville Chapman” and mailed to the Chair’s Office, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, P.O. Box 951569, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1569.