The C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry provides the opportunity for students to become leaders in all fields of chemistry. There are lecture courses in the general areas of inorganic, organic and physical chemistry, in addition to more specialized courses. Undergraduates are encouraged to participate in research with faculty mentors, developing the ability to understand complex concepts. Graduate researchers work independently in their chosen fields in addition to teaching undergraduate courses.
In 1994, the Bennetts established a $1.6 million endowment to create the C. Eugene and Edna P. Bennett Careers for Chemists Program and the C. Eugene Bennett Chair in Chemistry at WVU. The Bennett Program acquaints high school students, undergraduate students and graduate students in chemistry with the variety of career opportunities that are available to them. The program brings professionals from around the country to campus to interact with students and discuss the usefulness of an education in chemistry as the basis for career opportunities.
Professor Kenneth Showalter, an internationally respected researcher in nonlinear chemical dynamics, was named the C. Eugene Bennett Chair in Chemistry in 1996. During the Building Greatness Campaign, Mrs. Edna Bennett Pierce donated over $2 million to the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Chemistry to establish the C. Eugene Bennett Chemistry Program Enhancement Fund, the C. Eugene Bennett Graduate Fellowship Program in Chemistry and the C. Eugene Bennett Academic Enrichment Endowment. Resources were also made available to create an endowment for library acquisitions to directly benefit the department. Additionally, recent gifts from Mrs. Edna Bennett Pierce and the Bennett family total more than $2 million and will create the C. Eugene Bennett Teaching Professorship in Chemistry, an additional academic enrichment fund for chemistry majors and an undergraduate scholarship program within the C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry.
In the fall of 2003, the WVU Board of Governors gave the University permission to designate the Department of Chemistry as the C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry in recognition of the philanthropy of Dr. Bennett, Mrs. Edna Bennett Pierce and the entire Bennett family. The department was named the C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry on April 13, 2004. In conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University, Mrs. Edna Bennett Pierce provided a gift of $200,000 in support of renovations to the research laboratories in the department in 2014. The Bennett name will continue to represent an enduring philosophy of dedication and vision for future generations of chemistry students and researchers at West Virginia University.