Down the Corridor: Chemistry Centennial

Chemistry faculty member Diana Mason, left, presents a brick from Masters Hall to Catherine Dawson, granddaughter of W.N. Masters.In 1910, Wallace Newton Masters established UNT’s chemistry department, a program he developed and served as director for 30 years. A century later, his granddaughter, Catherine Dawson, was among those on campus to greet nearly 200 alumni and friends of the department for the Chemistry Centennial Celebration in October.

Activities throughout the day included a student poster session, a continuous history presentation and a seminar by Frank Carey (’70, ’72 M.S.) of Wharton College, all sponsored by professional chemistry fraternity Alpha Chi Sigma. At a celebration at Fremaux’s Metropolitan, 100 birthday candles were extinguished by chairs of the department through the years: Leroy Theriot, James Marshall, Ruthanne Thomas, Michael Richmond and William Acree. In addition to Dawson’s greeting, attendees enjoyed a history presentation by Marshall, followed by personal reminiscences from alumni. Leroy Whitaker (’50, ’52 M.S.) ended the evening with a challenge to create a special Chemistry Centennial Fellowship, an endowed fellowship for chemistry students.

Among the attendees were Elaine Truitt ('42), widow of Professor Emeritus Price Truitt (’41, ’42 M.S.), and alumni Bill (’68) and Dee Carrico, son and daughter-in-law of the late “Kit” Carrico (’27), who served as chemistry chair for 26 years following Masters.

Also present was UNT’s first recipient of a doctoral degree in chemistry, Linda Creagh (’62, ’64 M.S., ’67 Ph.D.), the Truitts’ daughter.

A DVD revisiting events of the Chemistry Centennial is available. Contact Jenny Marshall,, for information.


W.N. MastersW.N. Masters

Founder of the chemistry program and director for 30 years, W.N. Masters was known as a good planner, pusher, organizer, poet, scientist, manager, editor (he was editor of the Yucca yearbook) and evaluator of people.

He was good with finances (president of the First State Bank), knowledgeable in Latin and Greek, wrote several chemistry textbooks, and carried through on myriad chemistry and agricultural projects.

The home he built and lived in still stands at 1708 Hickory St. 








In 1910, W.N. Masters established the chemistry department and moved into the brand new Science Building, located on Avenue A where the Language Building is today. (The Science Building was removed in 1967).


In 1951, Masters Hall was built, initially housing both chemistry and biology. In 1967, biology moved into its new building to the immediate south. (In 2008, Masters Hall was razed to make room for today’s Life Sciences Complex. Scrollwork and other ornamentation from the building is incorporated into the new design.)


In 2004, the new Chemistry Building was constructed on the corner of Hickory Street and Avenue C. The 105,000-square-foot building provides state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories.




Catherine Dawson greets alumni and friends gathered for the Chemistry Centennial celebration.


Elaine Truitt (’42), seated, visits with, from left, Jack Buttram (’51, ’53 M.S.), Scott Lent, Leroy Whitaker (’50, ’52 M.S.) and Norm West (’53)


The party continued with 100 candles on the chemistry birthday cake.



Today is 22 April 2014, and I see the two images of Katie Dawson for the first time. David and myself entered North Texas State Teachers College in June of 1944, and shortly after that we met Katie at the same time in the library. We both were majoring in Chemistry. I will be 87 this October. Have misplaced Katie's email address, but when I find it, will send her an email. CH

Comment #1 posted by Charles Hershfield (not verified) 3 years 43 weeks ago.

I am his great great niece. His sister Lula Masters Johnson was my great grandmother. I was so happy to learn more about him through this posting of the ceremony. I live in Virginia and have been working on family genealogy. Lula Masters Johnson was my mother's paternal grandmother.

On a curious note, another dedicated genealogist in my family was also a chemistry professor. Earl Davis Smith, son of Judge JT Smith of Longview, was my maternal grandmother's brother He headed the chemistry department at Florida Southern College and wrote a mongraph on the "Forebears and Kin of JohnTyson Smith and Nancy Melvina Skaggs". John Tyson Smith was my mother's maternal grandfather .
So we have two Chemistry department heads in the family, one an uncle of my mother on her mother's side, and one a great uncle of my mother on her father's side.

We do not have any chemists in our family. I am an economist, but was admitted to graduate school in economics after taking none in undergraduate school, on the basis of my undergraduate grades in chemistry. The admissions committee thought anyone who did well in chemistry could handle economics.

I hope to meet the cousins I have learned of in this article.

Barbara Bowie-Whitman, PhD
BA,MA from SMU, 1962-1963
PhD Goerge Washington U. 1988

Comment #2 posted by Barbara Bowie-Whitman, PhD (not verified) 6 years 23 weeks ago.

Always liked this graceful old building. And Lady Katie Dawson looks lovely!

Comment #3 posted by Dana Benton '84, '92 (not verified) 6 years 46 weeks ago.

I'm proud to have this legacy in my family. I wish I could have known my great-grandfather. He was a remarkable man.

Comment #4 posted by Cathi Dawson Boswell (not verified) 6 years 46 weeks ago.

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