Richason and Stein To Be Honored at UMass Amherst Chemistry Reunion June 5

AMHERST, Mass. – Colleagues, students and alumni will gather June 5 to celebrate the careers and contributions of professor emeritus George Richason, Jr. and Richard S. Stein, Goessmann Professor Emeritus, whose combined years with the University of Massachusetts Amherst Chemistry Department total more than a century. The Chemistry Reunion will take place from 2-5 p.m. in 1634 Lederle Graduate Research Center.

After joining the faculty in 1950, Stein pioneered research on polymers, work that led to the creation of the Polymer Research Institute in 1961. The ongoing research at the institute spawned the establishment of the Polymer Science and Engineering Department five years later.

Stein, who retired from the faculty in 1991, is among the campus’s most widely honored researchers. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His numerous honors include the Von Hippel Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Materials Research Society, which he received in 1999. His campus awards include the Chancellor’s Medal and an honorary degree, which was bestowed in 1992.

Richason traces his affiliation with the Chemistry Department back to the Great Depression, when he enrolled at Massachusetts State College with the hope of securing a more stable future. After graduating with a degree in Chemistry and Education in 1937, he went on to complete his master’s in Chemistry and then accepted a teaching job at Turners Falls High School. Following a stint with the Navy in World War II, Richason returned to the Chemistry Department as an assistant professor in 1947. He was promoted to associate professor in 1956 and professor in 1964. In 1963, he received the Distinguished Teaching Award and in 1991, he was given an honorary degree.

Since 1959 Richason has been active on the Athletic Council, chairing the committee from 1967 to 1975 and serving as the campus’s faculty representative to the NCAA from 1978-93. His longtime support for the campus’s athletic programs earned him election to the UMass Sports Hall of Fame in 1982.

Though he officially retired in 1976, Richason remains a key player within his department. At 88, he serves as scheduling officer and chief undergraduate advisor. And last month as the official bearer of the University mace, he led the Commencement processionals for the 30th consecutive year.

The reunion will begin with an hour-long reception for Richason and Stein, followed by historical anecdotes by David Adams, a member of the department. From 4-5 p.m., there will be a tour of facilities for the Stein reunion participants, while Richason reunion attendees will take part in “toasts and roasts.”

The Richason reunion will also celebrate the establishment of the George R. Richason, Jr. Laboratory Fund, which is intended to support the research of a new faculty member slated to join the department next fall.

All reunion events are open to students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. Those who cannot attend are invited to send written tributes to professors Stein and Richason.

Greetings may be made by e-mail to,
or by U.S. mail to Brigette McKenna, Chemistry Department, LGRT Box 39336, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003-9336.

Anyone planning to attend is asked to RSVP to Brigette McKenna, 413/545-6076 or