Hillsdale College’s American Chemical Society (ACS) chapter won the Outstanding Chapter Award for the 2017 – 2018 calendar year. Out of more than 400 chapters, only 69 were selected for Outstanding Chapter.
“The award is a testament to how active the Hillsdale College ACS chapter has been, both on and off campus,” said Chairman and Professor of Chemistry Matthew Young, who is co-faculty adviser for ACS. “All of the credit goes to Dr. Hamilton, the ACS officers, and our student members. Dr. Hamilton has put in a lot of effort over the past several years as the faculty mentor for our ACS chapter, and the result has been a large and vibrant student organization.”
Though the chapter has received “commendable” and “honorable mention,” Christopher Hamilton, professor of chemistry and co-faculty adviser, said the chapter has never received the “Outstanding Chapter” award. He attributed the award to the active involvement of the students.
“They are looking for a chapter that is very active that is putting on a variety of events. They want to see that we are promoting chemistry directly, that we are providing outreach events, that we are connecting with other ACS chapters,” Hamilton said. “They also want to see professional development. They want to make sure that we are doing a lot of things and doing these things well.”
Already one of the largest chapters in the nation, Hillsdale ACS chapter has hosted a variety of events over the years. Senior and President of ACS chapter Christine Ausherman said the chapter is only doing what is natural to them.
“It’s kind of cool that even though we have lots of fun, and we reach out to schools, we are able to win outstanding chapter,” Ausherman said. “We’ve done what we’ve always done except we’ve reached out more to middle schools, elementary schools, high schools, and now other ACS chapters. Adding those things makes us an “outstanding chapter.”
ACS has hosted a variety of events ranging from the first annual “Pie Day run” where students run 3.14 miles and receive pie to now hosting “Science Olympiad,” a science competition for over 200 middle school and high school students. According to Ausherman, volunteerism is key.
“We ask for a lot of volunteers and we put on at least one event a month that requires volunteers,” Ausherman said. “We’ve perpetuated this culture that if we want something to be put on, we need volunteers, and we need people to be excited about science.”
Aside from steady volunteerism, Hamilton said the chapter’s diversity greatly contributes to its activism on and off campus.
“One thing that is great about our chapter is that we have not just chemistry and biochemistry majors. We have some other science majors and even people who just like chemistry. This helps bring in different perspectives into what we do as a chapter,” Hamilton said. “Hillsdale Students are just really committed and really involved.”
Ausherman said this award affects future involvement within the chapter.
“We do take ourselves seriously, and recognizing that we are outstanding chapter will help provide more energy and enthusiasm to the chapter itself,” Ausherman said.
But she said she does not doubt the value ACS has already had on this campus.
“Chemistry is the way in which mankind can appreciate and understand his place in nature. It asks the question, ‘what is man’s place in nature and how can we use it?” Ausherman said. “Having something like this club in the liberal arts context dedicated to chemistry, ultimately rounds out the liberal arts experience just as much as the humanities do.”