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History & Legacy

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The David M. Mason Lectures in Chemical Engineering are named in honor of the late David M. Mason, who was Professor of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry at Stanford University.

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 8/11/1983 David M. Mason, professor of chemical engineering, in front of white board.
8/11/1983, in front of a whiteboard.

History--- The David Malcolm Mason Lectureship was established in 1975 to recognize Professor Mason's revolutionary impact on chemical engineering education. A faculty member at Stanford since 1955, Professor Mason is especially remembered as the founding chairman of the Department of Chemical Engineering, which he organized in 1960 and chaired until 1972. During twelve years of rapid expansion, he nurtured the department to the leading position that it had already earned when he passed on the reins to his successors who have since followed. David Mason hired Professors Bud Homsy,  Robert MadixChanning Robertson, who became the department chair and followed in his footsteps.


1961, A student on the inner quad. Hoover Tower in the background.

 The Mason Legacy--- Born on January 7, 1921, in Los Angeles, Dave began his career at the California Institute of Technology, from which he graduated in 1943 with honors in Applied Chemistry. In 1947 and 1949, he received a Masters's degree and a Ph.D. degree in Chemical Engineering at Cal Tech. Dave taught at Cal Tech as an instructor until 1952 and then spent three years as head of the Applied Chemistry Group at Cal Tech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Long associations in Los Angeles and Cal Tech deeply shaped Dave's characteristic courtly behavior, his sense of elegance, and his ability to spot intellectual quality.

7/28/1964, in front of library periodical shelves.

 Dave joined the Stanford faculty in 1955 as an Associate Professor in the Chemistry Department's division of Chemical Engineering. During the following five years, he forged many personal friendships among the Chemistry faculty. These endured over the years and have shaped the ties that still exist between the departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, providing a productive symbiosis. 

In 1960, David Mason seized the opportunity to create an autonomous Department of Chemical Engineering as a result of a Ford Foundation grant to Stanford. The most notable aspect of the succeeding events is the rapidity with which Dave built up the department, hired senior and junior faculty, and provided the department with its first home, the John Stauffer Building, third of the buildings in the Stauffer complex. Between 1960 and 1964, Dave laid down the foundations of the department, "his department".