A Chemistry Department Farewell

Professor Franklin A. Davis delivers commencement address

The origin point of the Department of Chemistry’s current momentum may have been the recruitment of Professor Franklin A. Davis, a distinguished  organic chemist, from Drexel University in 1995. At that time, he was considering several offers, and while Temple  had real advantages, there were  also shortcomings.
“While the department had a high field NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer), it lacked X-ray and mass spectrometry facilities and operational support for instrumentation,” recalls  Davis, who is retiring. “The laboratories were old and the heating and air conditioning were erratic.”

During the past 22 years, he adds, “The department has continued to have wonderful support staff, but everything else has changed. Chemistry is now considered one of the top departments in the university.”

The chemistry that Davis developed is regularly used by academic and industrial laboratories worldwide. His sulfur-nitrogen compounds (i.e., “Davis reagents”) include N-sulfonyl oxaziridines for oxidations and asymmetric hydroxylations and N-sulfinyl imines (sulfinimines) for asymmetric synthesis of chiral amine derivatives. Among his honors are the Cope Scholar Award and John Scott Medal. He is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society and the Royal Society  of Chemistry.

Last December, Davis delivered the College of Science and Technology’s commencement address. “Beyond Frank’s commitment to research, he always found time to be a tremendous mentor and supporter of students, assistant professors and colleagues in general,” notes Daniel R. Strongin, professor and chair of the department. “The lively lunchtime conversations with Frank over the years will be missed by his colleagues. They added so much to the collegiality  and vitality that define our department.”

Davis says that he will not miss writing another proposal or even another paper. “What I will miss,” he says, “are my colleagues and the many students I have  had the honor and pleasure to teach and mentor over many years.”