Samuel Proctor Massie

Samuel Proctor Massie

The Twenty-Fifth Laurel Wreath Wearer [1976]

Samuel Proctor Massie [Annapolis (MD) Alumni Chapter] was born in Little Rock [AR] on July 3, 1919. He was the son of a minster and a teacher who instilled in him a love of education. A true prodigy, Massie graduated from high school at 13 years old. Denied admission to the University of Arkansas, Massie enrolled at Dunbar Junior College and earned an Associate of Arts degree [1936]. He continued his education at the Arkansas Mechanical Normal College, earning a BS degree [1938]. He also earned a MA degre from Fisk University [1940) and a PhD degree from Iowa State University [1946]. In 1970, Massie received an honorary degree from the University of Arkansas, the same institution that had refused to admit him in 1932.

Massie began his professional career as an instructor at his A1·kansas alma mater in 1941. At the conclusion of the school year, Iowa State accepted him into a doctoral program in organic chemistry. While pursuing his PhD degree, Massie was assigned to the Manhattan Project - the program that developed the first atomic bomb.

In 1946, he accepted a position at Fisk University but also worked as a chemist for the Eastman Kodak Company. Recognizing his love of teachiJ1g, Massie retired from the business world and accepted the chairmanship of the Chemistry Department at Langston [OK] University in 1947. He returned to Fisk, in 1953, as chairman of the Chemistry Department. While at Fisk, he continued his research of phenothiazine, which was used in treating psychiatric disorders, and wrote an article on the subject. In 1961, Massie relocated to Washington (DC) where he was chairman of the Chemistry Department at Howard University and an Associate Program Director at the National Science Foundation. In 1963, after spending over 20 years as a professor at institutions of higher learning, Massie became President of North Carolina College in Durham (NC). Three years later [1966] President Lyndon Johnson appointed Massie Professor of Chemistry at the US Naval Academy. Upon his retirement in 1993, he was named Professor Emeritus.

Massie was an advocate for education. He served as Chairman of the Maryland Board of Community Colleges and Chairman of the Maryland Science Advisory Council. In 1960, Massie was named one of the six best college chemistry professors in the nation. He published hundreds of articles that appeared in professional publications and was a guest speaker at numerous meetings of science professionals.

Massie received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the White House [1988] and the US Naval Academy Faculty Achievement Award [1990]. In 1995, his portrait was hung in the National Academy of Sciences gallery. Tn 1998, the American Chemical Society named Massie one of the 75 greatest chemists in the United States.

In 2002, the US Department of Energy sponsored the Dr. Samuel P. Massie Chair of Excellence, a $14.7 million grant awarded to 10 universities to enhance groundbreaking envirnnmental research and the production of top-level graduates. In 2004, the Prince George's County School Board dedicated the Samuel Proctor Massie Elementary School in Forestville in his honor.

A 1939 initiate of the Alpha Delta at Fisk University, Massie was a supporter of the Fraternity throughout his lifetime. Ie was affiliated with five alumni chapters - Nashville (TN), Oklahoma City (OK), Washington (DC) Alumni, Durham (NC) Alumni, and Annapolis (MD) Alumni, and Polemarch of the Nashville and Annapolis chapters.

His outstanding contributions to the field of chemistry earned him the 25th Laurel Wreath.

Laurel Wreath Wearer Massie died on April 10, 2005.

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