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Professor Tolman receives Bowers Faculty Teaching Award

Professor William Tolman, chair of the Department of Chemistry, has received the 2012 Charles E. Bowers Faculty Teaching Award from the College of Science & Engineering (CSE).

This award honors outstanding professors who have demonstrated exceptional interest and commitment to the teaching of students in the college. Tolman will receive his award at the CSE Faculty Awards Ceremony, preceding the CSE commencement on Friday, May 4.

Tolman is an award-winning professor and scientist. His awards include being honored as a Distinguished McKnight University Professor, and receiving the George W. Taylor Award for Excellence in Research.

His contributions to classroom teaching have been extensive. He has taught eight difference courses during his career at the university, ranging from undergraduate lecture courses to advanced graduate level offerings. He also has developed several new courses for the chemistry curriculum, including a graduate interdisciplinary course and a green chemistry course. Currently, he is co-developing a new honors organic chemistry course.

Tolman has become an advocate for green chemistry, and has shared the Department of Chemistry's expertise with other colleges and universities across the country, and he is working to infuse green chemistry into courses, laboratories, and research throughout the department.

As chair of the department, Tolman works with faculty members on new education initiatives such as the development of the department's first online chemistry course, and the transformation of labs into guided-inquiry learning experiences.

Tolman's teaching extends beyond the classroom into his research laboratory where he exposes students and post-docs to forefront research in synthetic bioinorganic or polymer chemistry. He has served as a mentor to 38 undergraduates, and a large cadre of graduate students. Six master's degrees and 16 doctorate degrees have been conferred to students whom he has mentored. Many have gone to obtain advanced degrees and to pursue careers as scientists at universities or in industry.

He is lauded by students and colleagues alike for his enthusiastic and caring attitude, the clarity of his lectures, his willingness to engage students in discussions, and his exceptional mentorship of future scientists.

Tolman earned his doctorate in chemistry from University of California, Berkeley, and did postdoctorate research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, before joining the faculty at the University of Minnesota in 1990. He has been chair of the Department of Chemistry since 2009.