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Bennett Careers for Chemists Program

The Bennett Careers for Chemists program helps students consider career choices after graduation. Every April, the Department invites three speakers to participate. The speakers share a common qualification, a degree in chemistry. Their careers cover a spectrum of choices. In the past, selected speakers have had careers in medicine, law, forensics and journalism, in addition to more traditional careers in business, government labs and academia. 

The speakers meet with three groups of students (honors freshmen, upper-class undergraduates, and graduate students) in an informal setting to discuss career choices and any advice the speakers wish to convey. The evening program allows the speakers to share their wisdom to a wider audience in a more structured format – a dinner with the speakers, undergraduate and graduate students, and chemistry faculty, followed by a program open to the public – short presentations by each speaker and a Q&A. A free dessert social after the Q&A encourages further informal interaction between the speakers and the students.

The success of this program was described by one speaker, Dr. Pamela Zurer, an editor for Chemical and Engineering News: “how concerned and committed faculty and staff can create enclaves that are both nurturing and stimulating within even the largest schools.”

This program is made possible by a generous donation from the Bennett family. Eugene Bennett received a B.S. degree in chemistry in 1949 and an M.S. degree in 1951 from WVU. In 1994, the Bennetts established an endowment to create the Careers for Chemists Program. In 2004, the decennial of this program and the many additional contributions to the chemistry department by the Bennetts was celebrated with a naming ceremony. The department is now the C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry.