The Lord Lecture Series

History behind the Lord Lecture

Now in its 25th year, the Lord Lecture at Allegheny College is made possible by a grant from the Thomas Lord Charitable Trust. The annual event brings to northwestern Pennsylvania the nation’s most distinguished chemists and practitioners of related disciplines for residencies of up to one week.

The Lord lecturer’s principal public address is intended to engage many segments of the greater Erie community, from the basic and higher education sectors to the corporate and industrial spheres. In addition, the lecturer spends considerable time with Allegheny students and faculty members, formally and informally, sharing special expertise and perspective. As a consequence, undergraduates at Allegheny have gained broad exposure to emerging fields of inquiry.

Allegheny’s relationship with the Thomas Lord Charitable Trust and the Lord corporation has its roots in the College’s earliest years. Samuel Lord, a Meadville settler in 1793, was a charter trustee of the College, and he gave Allegheny the five-acre site that remains at the core of the campus today; the Lord Gates, at the North Main Street entrance to Brooks Walk, bear his name. In 1924, his great-grandson, Hugh C. Lord, founded the Lord Corporation, today a major manufacturer of adhesives, rubber chemicals, primers, and coating, among other products. Allegheny College awarded Hugh Lord an honorary degree in 1948.

Samuel Lord’s great-great-grandson, Thomas Lord, began managing the company in 1932. Upon his death in 1989, Thomas Lord bequeathed to Allegheny $250,000 for support of selected research, teaching, and educational programming in chemistry, physics, engineering, and industrial management topics. Thomas Lord’s successor as Lord Corporation chairman, Donald M. Alstadt, conceived of the Lord Lecture in 1990 as a means of direct corporate support for science education in the area. It was Alstadt’s development of Chemlok, one of the world’s leading rubber-to-metal adhesives, that propelled the company into the chemical business in the 1950’s. Allegheny Awarded him an honorary degree in 1991.

Since the time of Samuel Lord, the sciences have been an important part of Allegheny’s liberal arts curriculum, and the College’s record as an educator of future scientists is exemplary.  Allegheny ranks in the top 4 percent of schools whose baccalaureate graduates go on to earn Ph.D.s in all fields, in the top 2 percent in the physical sciences, and in the top 1 percent in the life sciences (based on National Science Foundation data). On a percentage basis, Allegheny produces twice as many scientists across all natural science disciplines as the top-rated research universities. During the past decade, 37 percent of Allegheny graduates were natural science majors, a proportion more than double the national average of 15 percent.

Past Lord Lecturers

  • 1996      Harry Gray, CalTech, electron-transfer chemistry
  • 1997      Julius Rebek, Jr., The Scripps Research Institute, molecular recognition
  • 1998      Paul Anderson, Senior Vice-president of Chemical and Physical Sciences at DuPont
  • 1999      John Yates, Univ. of Pittsburgh, surface chemistry and physics
  • 2000      George Whitesides, Harvard Univ., biophysics
  • 2001      Dudley Herschbach, Harvard Univ., molecular analysis and reaction dynamics
  • 2002      Jane Richardson, Duke Univ., protein structure and folding
  • 2003      Roald Hoffmann, Cornell Univ., physical organic chemistry
  • 2004      F. Sherwood Rowland, UC Irvine, atmospheric chemistry
  • 2005      Cynthia Friend, Harvard Univ., surface and interfacial chemistry (cancelled)
  • 2006      Michael Doyle, Univ. of Maryland, rhodium carbene chemistry
  • 2007      Paras Prasad, Univ. of Buffalo, nonlinear optics
  • 2008      Susan Solomon, NOAA, atmospheric science
  • 2010      Charles Craik ’76, UC San Francisco, enzymology and protein interactions
  • 2011      Richard Zare, Stanford Univ., reaction dynamics and chemical analysis
  • 2012      Fraser Stoddart, Northwestern Univ., molecular nanotechnology
  • 2013      Emily Carter, Princeton Univ., computational and materials chemistry, alternative energy
  • 2015      Robert Grubbs, CalTech, olefin metathesis
  • 2016      Kristin Bowman-James, U of Kansas, macrocycles, Supramolecular and Traditional Coordination