“In a difficult economic time, they offered me a job, and I haven’t been fired yet.”
That’s how Dr. Jim Slater, chemistry professor, explains his long tenure at Franciscan University. Slater, a Michigan State grad with a doctorate from Florida State, joined the faculty in 1974. He came during a time when the College was struggling desperately to establish a “brand” that would enable it to stay in existence.
“At the time, it was just another small college,” he says. “And talk about Franciscan poverty—the center of the campus was an ugly parking lot. Our classrooms and labs were small and humble.”
Fortunately, hard times gradually became good times as the College found ways to not only survive but to thrive. As increased enrollment and the nursing major brought more students who needed foundational science courses, Slater saw the science departments grow to the point that a new building was needed to house them. He was a key consultant during the 10-year process of planning, developing, and building SS. Cosmas and Damian Science Hall.
“It was a high mark in my career,” Slater says. “Everything about the design really worked. Very few things in the entire process could have been done better.”
Air pollution has been of special interest for Slater. Over the years he has received several grants to study it, especially as it pertains to air quality in Steubenville. This past June, he was invited to present his research at the International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant, held in China.
As gratifying as this recognition is, Slater says what he finds most satisfying is seeing his former students making contributions to science.
“They visit and let me know where they are working, or teaching. Or they send copies of research they’ve done. That’s rewarding.”
Originally published in the Autumn 2009 Baronette newsletter. Professor Slater has since retired from Franciscan University.