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Fun Fact: Chemistry students, chemicals sweltered in the heat

Masters HallImagine a Texas summer like 2010 in a classroom with no air conditioning. Masters Hall was air conditioned in what year? 

A. 1945

B. 1968

C. 1979

D. 2001

The correct answer is B: Air conditioning was installed in 1968.

The first office to cool down was that of then chairman, Jim Marshall, but the main reason for the air conditioning installation was to keep chemicals from boiling during the sweltering summer months. Below, students in Masters Hall, photographed for the 1960 Yucca yearbook.

Department faculty and staff sweated in 40 degree Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and opened windows in search of a breeze. They also created a plan to prevent potential chemical combustion. Some chemicals, such as flammable liquid diethyl ether, could reach a boiling point at 35 degrees Celsius. Such chemicals were left uncapped and student organic chemistry laboratories were routinely open from 7:30 to about 10 a.m., then shut down for the day.

The department was founded in 1910 by Wallace N. Masters, its first and longest-serving chair. It was housed in Masters Hall, named for the founder, until 2004 when a new building opened. Find a slide show of the 2004 building. (Yes, it is air conditioned.)

The Department of Chemistry celebrates its centennial from 1 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15 as a part of Homecoming festivities. Events include tours of the current building, student poster presentations, slide show about the department’s history and dinner. Alumni and visitors also will share anecdotes and personal stories about the department and its history.

Enter to win a We Mean Green T-shirt and water bottle. Send an e-mail to with “Chemistry 100” in the subject line by 5 p.m. Oct. 8. The winner will be randomly selected from all responses.

  • Buy tickets to the centennial dinner, learn more: Susan Brockington or call 940-565-3554.

Chemistry Lab 1960

Posted on: Mon 11 October 2010

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