As part of the Inaugural lecture series at Utah State University , Alvan Hengge, professor of organic chemistry, was honored Feb. 1 at the University Residence by family, friends and colleagues for his recent promotion to full professor.
Steve Scheiner, department head, introduced Hengge as an educator who students love. Scheiner said students always evaluate professor Hengge highly and say he's willing to sacrifice for them.
Scheiner said Hengge teaches students how to think and is in total control of his classroom. Hengge is also an advisor and mentor for undergraduate and graduate students.
"He's a mentor more than a supervisor," Scheiner said. "Alvan makes it a pleasure to be in the major."
In his lecture Hengge labeled his presentation "there and back again" and discussed how he received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Cincinnati . After receiving his bachelor's he spent eight years teaching chemistry and physics in an inner-city high school in Cincinnati . Hengge said his biggest challenge was helping students graduate and pass his classes when most of the students were at a third grade to junior high school reading level.
Hengge said a vocational center came into Cincinnati right across from his high school and that's when he started to see a drop in the number of students in his classrooms.
"The vocational school was recruiting the smarter students to attend their school for hotel management and food services. That's when my classroom numbers dropped to about eight," Hengge said. "Most people think the biggest problem in inner-city schools is drugs and gangs, but really it's apathy and social promotions."
Hengge then made the decision to go back again to the University of Cincinnati to attain his master's degree in chemistry. After receiving his master's degree he went on to the University of Wisconsin to get his doctorate degree. Hengge came to Utah State University in 1996 as an associate professor of organic chemistry.
While at Utah State Hengge has co-authored 11 publications and is involved in a steady stream of research in enzyme mechanisms and phosphates. Hengge's research with his students straddles the fields of biochemistry and organic chemistry.
"Phosphate is not just something to make your lawn green," Hengge said jokingly.
To find out more on Hengge and his accomplishments, visit his Web site