Harton Scholarship

Harton Scholarship and Faculty Fellowship for Chemical Industry

The Wake Forest University Department of Chemistry is deeply grateful for the Harton Scholarship for Chemical Industry, made possible by the generous support of chemical industry leader, Jim Harton (WFU’74), and his wife, Courtenay Harton.  The primary goal of this undergraduate scholarship is to contribute to the future success of the American chemical industry by providing financial support to chemistry majors who demonstrate the potential and motivation to develop into future leaders in the chemical industry.

Harton Scholarship Awardees

Adwoa Teneboak 2019-2021

Gabe Sowards 2018-2020

Jordan Harmer 2017-2019

Ike Osuorah 2016-2018

Johnathan Bowen 2015-2017

Aaron Simmons 2014-2016

In addition to the scholarship, the Harton’s have also established the Harton Faculty Fellowship for Chemical Industry.  The primary goal of this fellowship is to contribute to the future success of the American chemical industry by providing financial support to chemistry faculty who demonstrate the potential and motivation to help develop future students for careers in the chemical industry. 

Harton Faculty Fellowship Awardee

Prof. Al Rives 2019-2022

About the Hartons

We asked Jim to reflect on his time at Wake Forest and his reasons for helping the Department establish these programs.

1. What do you see as a key component of a Wake Forest education that makes our graduates stand out?

Whether you are in NC or not, people know that Wake Forest is a highly ranked university with a strong reputation academically, athletically and from a research perspective.  If you are job hunting, companies that recruit Wake Forest students are happy with their performance as new hires and their ability to grow with and add value to these companies over time.  So as a Wake Forest student you benefit from the positive examples of those who preceded you.  Part of that is gained from the broad liberal arts curriculum that Wake Forest provides.   At Wake you can major is sciences, business, math or other majors, but you will also have your horizons expanded by your liberal arts classes.  That may not be obvious in early entry level jobs, but as you move up in an organization,having that Wake Forest liberal arts background will help you to evaluate things more broadly and project their impact more quickly and over the long term.

2. Why have you chosen to support the Chemistry program? 

I enjoyed a career in the chemical industry for more than 40 years and wanted to do something to support the industry.  Going back to the early 2000’s I could see that American universities were not graduating enough engineers and scientists for the roles that were going to become vacated when old, gray headed people like me began to retire.  This was particularly true for the chemical industry.  From a corporate standpoint I began to do something about it, but I also tried to figure out what I could do personally to make an impact.  This led to discussions with Christa Colyer and Mark Welker about how I could help Wake Forest chemistry students fill this industry void.  The result was the establishment of a modest scholarship that so far has helped 6 Wake Forest chemistry students meet some of their tuition costs.  I may be taking a leap of faith, but I believe these students and others like them, armed with a Chemistry degree from Wake Forest have the potential to become leaders in the American chemical industry and by extension to the global chemical industry. 

3. What do you wish you would have been told right before your graduation?

Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”  There I’ve shown my age, but I use this to illustrate the importance of being a bold decision maker.  Not making a decision is a decision, so you may as well get in the mud and be an active decision maker.  Choosing Door #1 vs. Door #2 is not really the issue.  The issue is how will you maximize the outcome of your choice, or how will you recover if that choice is not working out.  In reality is there are probably only 5-8 decisions that any of us make in our lifetimes that will really have a life changing impact.  I hope that Ike and Jordan will find that their decision to come to Wake Forest and major in chemistry will be one of those life changing decisions.

4. Favorite memories of Wake Forest?

Even though I have lived away from Wake Forest for most of my career, I always knew that once I retired that I would return to our Oak Ridge farm 20 miles away from campus. Because of that I have actively kept many friendships with my Wake Forest classmates and Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers. These friendships are what I cherish the most about Wake Forest. While I was getting a great education in the classroom, the personal and social interactions with my friends prepared me for the business world – especially working with and leading people of diverse backgrounds and cultures. 

5. Thoughts on the establishment of the Faculty Fellowship?As you know few if any other Departments at Wake Forest have an alumni group like Friends of Chemistry.  After Dean Gillespie asked me to join the Board of Vistors I was also asked to consider sponsoring a faculty fellowship.  I began to evaluate the reasons why Friends of Chemistry was successful and what was needed to insure its future success.  After discussions with Mark Welker, Christa Colyer, Al Reeves and Bill Batten it seemed that continued success depended on 3 components.  These were 1) support for the FoC mission, by the Department Chair; 2) a professor in the department to be the “boots on the ground” initiating contact with students and chemistry alumni, 3) and a group of alumni volunteers that have an keen interest in working with the department to help Wake Forest’s chemistry students.  With that said the Harton Fellowship was created to make sure that today and in the future, a chemistry professor would have the assigned responsibility to act as the “boots on the ground’ for the department making sure that students interests were the key focus and that they had the network of successful alumni to engage with for mentoring and general career advice.  I am happy to be one of those “nosey’ and ‘noisey” alumni.  

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