On a shelf in Brian Grady’s office at the University of Oklahoma sits a signed first edition of a book on chemistry authored by the brother-in-law of his sister’s godmother.
It’s among the OU professor’s most prized possessions — not so much because of the distant family tie but rather for the impact Steven Zumdahl had on him at Illinois.
“I had him for freshman chemistry, and he did great demonstrations as well as teaching a course which was hard but fair,” says Grady, OU’s Douglas and Hilda Bourne Chair in Chemical Engineering and director of its School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering.
“He hired me as a teaching assistant during my senior year — the only chemical engineering student he hired — and I got a chance to teach a class.
“That wonderful experience stayed with me; after working for Procter & Gamble for two years, I knew I would be much happier as a professor and it was largely that experience that convinced me that a professor was a better career choice for me.
“I saw him periodically over the years at American Chemical Society meetings and always made a point to talk to him.”