This may not be a tale
of love at first sight, but nonetheless there's a whole lot
of chemistry in this story.
For starters, there's the blossoming relationship between Muhlenberg
College and the University of Michigan. Since the summer of
1999, the College has been sending one chemistry major each
year to participate in a prestigious University of Michigan
summer chemistry research program.
The University of Michigan receives more than 200 applications
per year for its highly regarded research program, and accepts
only 10 to 12 students. The fact that a Muhlenberg student has
won one of these coveted slots for four consecutive years certainly
says something about the quality of a Muhlenberg education.
This year, Muhlenberg's fourth student, Stephen Chen '04, will
be representing the College in Ann Arbor, succeeding Christopher
John '00, who went in 1999, Christopher Szakal '01 who went
in 2000, and Kristin Wustholz '02, who went in 2001.
Then, of course, there's the chemistry between Bob Buzzard '62
and his wife Carolyn (Meder) Buzzard '61 - the dynamic pair
whose efforts made these interactions possible.
When the Buzzards, who have been chemistry educators for more
than 40 years, learned that some Muhlenberg chemistry majors
who would have liked to pursue summer research were unable to
do so because of a lack of funded research opportunities, they
decided to see if they could help.
An initial fact-finding mission to the University of Michigan
by the Buzzards in September of 1997 proved to be the catalyst
in a series of reactions that are still generating a great deal
of positive energy on both the Muhlenberg and Michigan campuses.
John, the first Muhlenberg student to participate in the University
of Michigan summer research program, offered a glowing assessment
of his experience in an e-mail
to the Buzzards during his time at University of Michigan in
the summer of 1999.
The Buzzards still feel that John's words capture the essence
of the chemistry between Muhlenberg and the University of Michigan
better than anything they could say themselves.
" You kept telling me that the people here were nice but
you could never prepare me for how EXTREMELY nice they actually
are!" John wrote. "Everyone has been really friendly
and warm. When I couldn't find something on the first day, I
would stop and ask and they just went out of their way to help
me! So to sum it all up, this is even better than I could've
possibly dreamed about! Thank you so much for giving me, and
so many more Muhlenberg students, such an awesome, amazing experience!"
The University of Michigan professor who advised John, Dr. Mark
Banaszak Holl, also seemed to be sensing the chemistry between
the two schools during a visit to Muhlenberg in which he stated:
"I am looking forward to the continued relationship between
the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg. It is clear to me
that the interaction will make both institutions better places."
Other Michigan chemistry faculty expressed similar enthusiasm
about the Muhlenberg-Michigan connection, including Dr. Mark
Meyerhoff and Dr. Richard Sacks, who spoke very favorably about
College personnel during their visits to campus.
Today, the Buzzards say that they hope this story will help
to set off a chain reaction of sorts among Muhlenberg alumni.
Bob says, "More Muhlenberg alumni ought to get involved.
Muhlenberg's reputation preceded us at the University of Michigan.
There is so much that can be done with a Muhlenberg education
and the good news is we will continue to enjoy our servitude
to the College."
Photo: Kristin Wustholz '02 participated in
the University of Michigan summer research program.