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The University will remain faithful to one of its legendary scientists of the past while also honoring a contemporary giant in the chemistry department.
University Day festivities included the dedication of two chemistry buildings in one — Venable Hall and Royce Murray Hall. The east part of the building, occupying the footprint of the original building dedicated 85 years ago to chemistry professor and UNC President Francis P. Venable, will keep the Venable name. The west side will be named for Royce W. Murray, Kenan Professor of chemistry, who joined the department in 1960 and has mentored more than 155 graduate and postdoctoral students.
The author of four books, Murray led the effort for the construction of the Kenan Laboratories, for chemistry which opened in 1971.
Venable was a professor from 1880 to 1930, and president of the University from 1900 to 1914.
Murray has developed an international reputation for the excellence of his research and his devotion to Carolina and the greater scientific community. His contributions to electrochemistry and in the chemistry of new materials are recognized worldwide. Among his research accomplishments, Murray introduced the concept of chemically modified electrodes, tools that are important in chemical sensors, fuel cells, and solar energy conversion.
He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and since 1991 has been editor of Analytical Chemistry, the discipline’s leading publication. He has received the University’s Thomas Jefferson Award and the North Carolina Award in science.
The original Venable Hall, home to the chemistry department since 1925, was demolished in late 2007 and early 2008. The new Venable — which has some bricks from the original Venable integrated into its northeast façade — and Murray halls house the William R. Kenan Jr. Chemistry Library, along with department of chemistry classrooms, lecture halls, conference rooms and the department of marine sciences.
Though the interior of the building is not yet finished, the library opened in early September, and classes are being held in the smaller classrooms and in the large lecture hall.