Charles Lathrop Parsons Award | February 23, 2009 Issue - Vol. 87 Issue 8 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 87 Issue 8 | pp. 63-64 | Awards
Issue Date: February 23, 2009

Charles Lathrop Parsons Award

Recipients are honored for contributions of major significance to chemistry
Department: ACS News
Glenn and Jane Crosby
Credit: Courtesy of Glenn & Jane Crosby
Glenn and Jane Crosby
Credit: Courtesy of Glenn & Jane Crosby

Sponsored by ACS

“I was astounded that the ACS Board even considered us for this honor,” Glenn A. Crosby says. “The Parsons Award has always been bestowed upon an individual, not a team, so when I was approached by a longtime colleague who wanted to nominate me for the society’s most prestigious service award, I asked him not to do it.” Crosby wouldn’t accept this award alone because all of his service work for chemistry, education, and ACS has been done in a seamless partnership with his wife, Jane. “I thought that was the end of it,” he says. “So the call from ACS Board Chair Judy Benham was not only a surprise, but the news was truly astonishing.”

College sweethearts and constant companions of more than 60 years, Glenn A. and Jane L. Crosby both graduated from Waynesburg College, in Pennsylvania, with bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and mathematics in 1950. After college and marriage, Glenn and Jane went to Seattle, where at the University of Washington Glenn pursued a Ph.D. in physical chemistry, which he received in 1954.

Glenn is an emeritus professor of chemistry and materials science at Washington State University; Jane is retired from a position there as associate in chemistry. Both began at Washington State in 1967. Glenn is internationally recognized for his research in the field of molecular electronic spectroscopy, particularly the study of inorganic complexes, but the Parsons Award isn’t given for academic achievement. It is given, usually every other year, “to recognize outstanding public service by a member of ACS.”

A 49-year member of ACS, Glenn has served in society governance for more than 30 years. His service has included stints as chair of the Division of Chemical Education (CHED), the Society Committee on Education, and the Committee on Grants & Awards. He served for nine years on the board of directors.

Team Crosby has worked the hardest in the field of chemical education. The couple has directed several professional development programs for teachers including the development at Washington State of an M.A. in chemistry for high school teachers in the Northwest, several regional teacher programs throughout the U.S., and an intensive laboratory program for high school chemistry teachers in Chile.

Together with their daughter, Karen, the Crosbys ran the Cougar Summer Science Camp, a one-week residential camp for 8th and 9th graders at Washington State for 17 years. “I designed the program, gave all the lectures, and managed the labs. Jane did everything else,” Glenn says, “from processing the applications, arranging for the dormitory rooms, and handling the health and accident cases to seeing that every child attended every event.” The Crosbys bunked in the dorm for the week each year. “If you do not think that riding herd on 100 teenagers for a week is hard work, then you are not well informed,” Glenn says with a chuckle.

Jane and Glenn were coprincipal investigators of “Operation Progress,” a program for high school teachers that ran at the DivCHED Biennial Conferences on Chemical Education. In addition, Jane managed several National Science Foundation institutes for high school and middle school teachers in the Northwest. They also planned and managed the CHED programs at six ACS national meetings.

The couple’s latest project for CHED and ACS is raising a $300,000 endowment so that, every year, a deserving high school science teacher in each of the 10 electoral regions of ACS can receive a substantial cash award. It is their aim that this award be funded in perpetuity. Glenn proposed the venture, and Jane drafted the letters, ferreted out potential donors, and managed the project. The first awards were presented in 2007.

Each regional winner’s credentials will be submitted to ACS as nominations for the James Bryant Conant Award in High School Chemistry Teaching. “In a real sense, we are democratizing the Conant Award,” Glenn tells C&EN. “I suspect that this will be our last big endeavor for ACS,” he says. Jane and Glenn will each be 81 this year. “The best way to become recognized is to outlive your contemporaries. I guess that says it all,” Glenn adds.

The Crosbys will present the award address after a board-sponsored luncheon on Sunday, March 22, in Salt Lake City.

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