Hendrix Magazine

Fab in the Lab

By Rob O’Connor ’95
Associate Editor

Chemistry Professor Dr. Liz U. Gron was selected as the 2010 Arkansas Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

In an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Gron, who grew up in a blue-collar community outside of Boston, Mass., gave her Danish immigrant parents – the late Poul and AnnMarie Gron – credit for shaping her career.

“It’s not uncommon in immigrant families that education was the key to success,” she said.

Gron graduated from Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., and earned a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin. She later worked as a chemical engineer at the University of Delaware. She joined the teaching faculty at Hendrix in 1994.

“We knew we were fortunate to get Liz here, but the ensuing 16 years have shown that we had no idea how lucky we were,” said Gron’s colleague and friend Dr. Tom Goodwin, Professor of Chemistry, who is no stranger to the kind of dedication to teaching exemplified by Professor of the Year honorees. Dr. Goodwin received the national Carnegie/CASE Professor of the Year award in 2003.

“Liz excels at teaching, mentoring, advising, counseling, research, publications, presentations, proposal writing, organizing meetings and workshops, curricular and laboratory innovation, lab and classroom assessment strategies, and community service, as well as increasingly displaying leadership on a national stage,” Goodwin said. “She is just a whirlwind of activity, a blast of fresh air, an encouraging and compassionate teacher and friend, and an inspirational dynamo.”

Dr. Eva Hurst ’98, a private practice dermatologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Washington University, was a student of Gron’s. She praised Gron’s passion for teaching and tireless devotion to student success.

“I took several courses with Dr. Gron and was always impressed by her teaching skills, but more importantly, by the care and dedication she exhibited for her students,” Hurst said. “She is an amazing combination of honesty, kindness, passion, brilliance, and enthusiasm.”

In addition to her teaching and research, Gron is very active in the local community. Most visibly, she has organized Ridin’ Dirty with Science, an outreach program for Hendrix students to teach science skills and concepts to local students at the Boys and Girls Club of Faulkner County. In addition to Ridin’ Dirty, Gron is known at the Boys and Girls Club as the “Cookie Lady,” a reference to the cookies she uses as an incentive to motivate young children to read.

Gron organized a holiday outreach project providing Thanksgiving dinners for people in need. In the past year, she raised more than $7,000, involved more than 100 high school students and 30 adults, and fed more than 1,500 people.

Dr. Robert L. Entzminger, Provost and Dean of the College, called Gron’s community leadership a “natural extension” of her work on the Hendrix campus and in the national community of chemistry scholars.”

“In an institution, and in a department, that takes justifiable pride in the quality of its faculty, Dr. Gron nonetheless stands out as exceptional,” Provost Entzminger said. “The excitement for her subject that she exudes is infectious, and her commitment to the success of all her students is legendary.”

Gron has two sons, Erik Urban ’13 and Bryan Urban, a senior at Conway High School. Five years ago, Gron married Dr. John Krebs, Professor of Music at Hendrix. The couple lives in Conway.