WPI has announced the establishment of a new endowed professorship in chemistry made possible by the generosity of John C. Metzger Jr., Class of 1946, and his wife, Jean Metzger. John Metzger, who died in December 2006 at the age of 82, was an emeritus trustee of WPI. The Metzgers created the professorship with a $1.5 million endowment; the recipient will chair WPI's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
WORCESTER, Mass. – Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) today announced the establishment of a new endowed professorship in chemistry made possible by the generosity of John C. Metzger Jr., Class of 1946, and his wife, Jean Metzger. John Metzger, who died in December 2006 at the age of 82, was an emeritus trustee of WPI.
"John Metzger did so much to help this university grow and prosper," said WPI President Dennis D. Berkey. "We are deeply grateful for his service and his friendship. While the WPI community will miss him profoundly, the legacy he built, through his professorship and countless other contributions, will endure for generations to come."
The Metzgers created the professorship with a $1.5 million endowment. The recipient of this professorship will chair WPI's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, which is internationally recognized for its cutting-edge research on a broad range of topics with real-world applications, including nanofabrication (handheld medical analyzers); ion transport in cell membranes (improved plant nutrition); molecular biology (pathogen-resistant plants); and solid-state chemistry (improved medications). The Metzger Professor of Chemistry will be one of 25 WPI faculty members in four academic departments to conduct research in the new WPI Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park, an 11-acre mixed-use life sciences-based campus.
“The establishment of the Metzger Professorship was very important to my husband because he so passionately wanted young people to go into science,” said Jean Metzger. “It was rewarding for him to know that his gift would help WPI carry on its tradition of empowering students with both knowledge and practical experience. I have never known another person to have such a passion for his alma mater as John had for WPI, and I am delighted that his legacy will live on through this professorship.”
A native of Norristown, Pa., Metzger entered WPI in the fall of 1942 with a scholarship that helped pay his first-year expenses. As a sophomore, he was accepted into the Navy's wartime V-12 program. He graduated with a B.S. in chemical engineering in 1945 and served as a commissioned officer in the Navy during World War II. During his WPI years, he competed on the soccer and swimming teams, was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, and was elected to Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society, and Sigma Xi, the scientific research society.
After his Navy service, he joined E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., where he would spend his entire professional career. He began as a chemical engineer and over the years worked in chemicals, atomic energy, fabrics and finishes, polymer products, photosystems, and electronics, holding various technical and supervisory positions in New Jersey, Indiana, and Texas. He held an increasingly responsible series of management positions before being elected a vice president in 1978 and a group vice president in 1983. Among his significant accomplishments was the launch of Dupont's instruments business, which produced a line of automatic clinical analyzers used in thousands of hospitals and clinics worldwide. He retired in December 1986 as group vice president for the Photosystems and Electronic Products Division.
Metzger was an active WPI alumnus, serving in a variety of volunteer capacities, including chair of his 40th Reunion and a member of the Fire Protection Engineering Advisory Board. He joined the WPI Board of Trustees in 1981, the same year that WPI honored him with the Robert H. Goddard '08 Alumni Award for Distinguished Professional Achievement. He was elected an emeritus trustee in 1989. His generosity to WPI earned him membership in Presidential Founders, which honors donors whose lifetime giving equals or exceeds John Boynton's founding gift of $100,000. He was also lifetime member of the WPI President's Advisory Council and a charter member of the university's George I. Alden Society, which recognizes alumni who commit to including WPI in their estate plans.
In Delaware, Metzger had a long involvement with Junior Achievement. He was a member of the National Board of Junior Achievement and served as president of Junior Achievement of Delaware. In 1985, he received the Gold Leadership Award, the top honor for individual accomplishment on behalf of local Junior Achievement efforts. In 1987, he and his first wife Jane retired to Vero Beach, Fla., where they belonged to the First Presbyterian Church, the Moorings Club, and the Vero Beach Country Club. Sadly, Jane Metzger passed away in 1997. After Jane’s passing, John met and married Jean S. Olsen, who had also retired to Vero Beach. John and Jean lived in the Oak Harbor Club in Vero Beach. Metzger was a member of the American Society of Chemical Engineers and the Instrument Society of America.