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Retires from Faculty

Moses Gomberg
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."