Straumanis Hall, which houses the Graduate Center for Materials Research, was renovated this summer and renamed Straumanis-James Hall in honor of William J. “Bill” James, professor emeritus of chemistry at Missouri S&T.
By the end of the summer, James had completed 57 years of service in teaching and research to the university. Martin Straumanis, a former professor of metallurgical engineering, was one of James’ friends and colleagues. Straumanis died in 1973.
In 1964, James co-founded the university’s Graduate Center for Materials Research, where he is still a senior investigator. He served as director of the center from 1964-75 and again from 1980-82.
James played a key role in the establishment of Ph.D. programs in chemical engineering and chemistry and was the major advisor to the university’s first recipient of a Ph.D. in chemical engineering. He is a past recipient of a Fulbright research professorship and has studied under a Nobel laureate in France. He was one of the first faculty members at S&T to start a company based on his research, MEAD Chemical Co., and helped establish Brewer Science Corp. in Rolla.
Straumanis and James are thought to have been the first researchers on campus to receive funding from the National Science Foundation, which, incidentally, provided $1.8 million to help renovate the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and electrical systems in Straumanis-James Hall.