The Michigan Alumnus 225
Moses Gomberg Retires From Faculty
Distinguished Professor of Organic Chemistry Reaches Retirement Date. Had Gained International Fame. Chester S. Schoepfle Succeeds Him as Chairman of the Department of Chemistry.
FOR a number of years Dr. Moses Gomberg and his sister Sonia, have been accustomed to hold a gay little dinner during the month of February to which are invited a small group of their friends who have birth days during the month. This year there will be the usual gathering at the Gomberg's charming Ann Arbor home but special significance will be attached to the event. This month the famous chemist will be 70 years old. February 8 is a milestone of importance which marks the retirement of one of the University's greatest teachers and of a man whose personal accomplishments in the realm of science have brought international dis tinction to his University.
University regulations call for the retirement of its Faculty members at the age of 70. "Resignation" is not a part of the procedure. Professor Gomberg sent simple notice of his "eligibility for retirement" and the Regents responded by adopting resolutions which briefly reviewed his association with the University, paid tribute to his work, and conferred on him the title of "Professor Em eritus of Organic Chemistry."
Professor Gomberg's successor as Head of the Department already has been selected. He is Professor Chester Seitz Schoepfle, an able man, in his early forties, who has been on the faculty since 1916. Like his great "chief," he began as an Instructor, after having taken his first Michigan degree. He received the degree of Doctor of Science in 1918 and has been Associate Professor since 1925.
THE Regents invited Dr. Gomberg to continue to make use of the office and laboratory facilities of the Chem ical Laboratory and expressed "the cordial hope that he may, for many years to come, find joy in the pursuit of his own researches and continue to be, as he has been in the past, an inspira tion to the younger scholars of the University."
" Professor Gomberg's scholarly gen ius has contributed fundamentally to the advancement of the science of chemis try: his services to this University as Administrator and as teacher and guide to hundreds of students have been of the highest importance; and his sanity, his wisdom, his loyalty, and his gentle spirit have endeared him to colleagues and students alike." Thus the Regents expressed their appreciation of the scientist and the man.
The scientific world has shown him many an honor. He has been the recipient of the Nichols, the Willard Gibbs and the Chandler Medals; he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Past President of the American Chemical Society.
MOSES GOMBERG came to the United States from Russia as a young man. He matriculated at the University of Michigan in 1886, earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1890 and his Master's in 1892. Two years later he had completed the work required for his Sc.D., preparing his dissertation on reactions of caffeine. He became an Instructor in 1893. His work early showed indications of great originality and he gained much experience and some distinction, as well, when a leave of absence gave him the opportunity to study at Munich in Baeyer's laboratory and at Heidelberg under Victor Meyer. He is especially noted for his work with free radicals and is the discoverer of trivalent carbon, made when he was attempting to synthesize hexaphenyle- thane. He also is known for his work on tautomerism in triphenylmethane series and with ethylene chlorhyden. Like many a chemist, Dr. Gomberg was called from scholarly pursuits during the World War and acted as Consulting Chemist for the Bureau of Mines. He is credited with having discovered the German's secret of preparing the basic material used in mustard gas.
Industry credits him with having discovered the first satisfactory anti-freeze compound used in automobile radiators as well as new and important solvents for auto mobile lacquers. He has contributed nu merous articles to chemical journals, many of which are treatises based on original material. The University's distinguished chemist is also one of the most modest of its faculty mem bers. He dislikes publicity and does not talk about him self. Professor Alfred H. White has pointed out that in his classes he never referred to his own work more directly than to intimate that some of the research bearing on a particu lar subject had been performed "in this laboratory."
Dr. Gomberg has never married but lives with his younger sister, who joined him early in his Ann Arbor career. Although the calendar says that he is 70 years of age, his figure and manner still convey the impres sion of youth. Professor Alfred H. White tells of him that only a few years ago, while driving home from the University, he was accosted by a traffic officer at a stop street and cautioned that he should have made "a more complete stop." The reply of the scientist was the query, "What can be done to a stop to make it more complete?'' The traffic officer retorted, "Now, young man, don't give me any of your lip."