In Memoriam: Dr. Al Fry

Dr. Al Fry, Elisha B. Nye Professor of Chemistry

Announcement from the Provost:

“I am sorry to inform you that Albert J. Fry, Elisha B. Nye Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, passed away on February 1, 2024, at the age of 86. 

Al received his BS from University of Michigan and his PhD from University of Wisconsin at Madison. He joined the Wesleyan faculty as a postdoctoral research fellow in 1964 and as an assistant professor in 1965. He taught here for 52 years before retiring in 2016. He published more than 170 research articles during his career, as well as two books on organic electrochemistry, and was a member of the American Chemical Society and The Electrochemical Society.

“Al Fry was an exceptionally generous and supportive colleague with a boundless knowledge of physical organic chemistry,” recalled Brian Northrop, E.B. Nye Professor of Chemistry. “His lab was a vibrant place filled with graduate and lots of undergraduate research students who were fortunate to learn directly from one of the best.”

Giselle Reyes ’18, MA’19, visiting instructor of chemistry, worked in Professor Fry’s group while completing her BA/MA. “Professor Fry was an incredibly supportive, caring, and enthusiastic mentor. He excelled at making the lab an approachable, engaging, and welcoming environment for everyone and encouraged diversity in thought and teamwork. He helped me to discover my passion for research and desire to pursue a career in chemistry and he inspired me to face challenges life throws at me with humor, grit, and grace. He was my biggest advocate in the beginning of my career, and I would not be the scientist or person that I am today without him. “

“Al was a wonderful colleague and friend for 42 years,” said George A. Petersson, Fisk Professor of Natural Science, Emeritus. “As a senior colleague he was extremely supportive when I arrived at Wesleyan. We became close friends as I joined him among the senior faculty. There were amusing moments both socially and at work. I remember back in the days before everything was done electronically, I flew to Washington to hand deliver my NSF proposal by the deadline. As I turned to climb the steps to NSF headquarters, I met Al who was descending the steps after delivering his proposal. Al Fry was one of the people who made Wesleyan a very special place. He will be missed by everyone who had the privilege to know him.”

Al is survived by his wife, Melissa; his daughter, Anne Fry and son-in-law, Steve Bozeman; son Peter Fry and daughter-in-law Rebecca Springer; son Jon Fry and daughter-in-law Kim Mergenthaler Fry; and grandchildren Morgan Bozeman, Molly Fry, Maggie Fry, Will Fry, and Mackenzie Fry. There will be a private family service at D’Angelo Funeral Home in Middletown, Connecticut. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to The Leopold Schepp Foundation, 950 Third Avenue, Suite 3100, New York, NY 10022.”

Nicole Stanton
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Dance

Giselle Padilla Reyes ’18 and Dr. Al Fry, at Commencement

Chemistry Major Elected to Phi Beta Kappa

Fall 2023 elections to Wesleyan’s Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa have been announced, and it is with great pleasure that we recognize
Anne Foley Kiely.
To be elected, a student must first have been nominated by the department of their major. The student also must have demonstrated curricular breadth by having met the General Education Expectations and must have achieved a GPA of 93 or above.

The emblem contains the three Greek letters “Phi,” “Beta,” and “Kappa,” which are the initials of the Greek motto, Philosophia Biou Kybernetes, or “the love of wisdom is the guide of life.”

Anne Foley Kiely
Chemistry, Science in Society

Induction will take place on Wednesday, December 6, 2023 at 4:30p.m. in McKelvey Room, Admissions.

In Memoriam: Dr. Stewart Novick

Dr. Stewart Novick, Joshua Boger University Professor of the Sciences and Mathematics

It is with profound sorrow that the Chemistry Department announces the passing of Dr. Stewart Novick. Stew was an esteemed figure within the Wesleyan community, revered for his significant contributions to molecular spectroscopy, the department, and the university. In recognition of his legacy, the Chemistry Department is planning a memorial event, and shall soon share the details here. Condolences may be sent to the family here.

Announcement from the Provost:

“It is with deep sadness that I write to inform you that our dear friend and colleague, Stewart E. Novick, Joshua Boger University Professor of the Sciences and Mathematics, Emeritus, passed away last week at the age of 78.

Stew received his BS from Stony Brook University and his AM and PhD from Harvard University. He served as a research fellow at Harvard and a research associate at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics, University of Colorado at Boulder, before he arrived at Wesleyan in 1978, where he taught until his retirement this past summer. During his 45 years at Wesleyan, he was named an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, a National Science Foundation Fellow, and a Woodrow Wilson Fellow.

“Stew was the consummate educator: demanding, caring, capable of intense precision and joyful inspiration,” recalled President Michael Roth. “When I think of the sciences at Wesleyan, I will always think of Stew Novick.”

David Westmoreland, associate professor of chemistry, reflected that “Stew Novick was the heart and soul of both the Chemistry Department and the Natural Sciences and Mathematics division. He was a prolific researcher, a talented and much revered teacher, and a steadfast colleague and friend to many at Wesleyan and around the world. But perhaps his greatest legacy is in the scores of undergraduate and graduate students who were transformed by his mentorship. He was truly the epitome of what a Wesleyan professor should be.”

“He was a curmudgeonly mensch. He believed in the goodness and potential of everyone, pushed me to be my best self and (thankfully) forced me to apply to grad school,” said Stew’s former student, Alison Williams ’81. “His love of chemistry was infectious. He was the epitome of a colleague, always bringing people together. The Tuesday science faculty lunch tradition that he began 33 years ago still continues. Even when he was bedridden, he was deeply concerned about Wesleyan, his colleagues, and students, and refused to dwell on his health.”

Beach Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, Joe Knee said, “Stew was beloved by students, faculty, and the entire Wesleyan community. His passion for science was extraordinary and inspired the many students he taught in his classes and the large number of graduate and undergraduate students he mentored in his laboratory.”

Former student Alison Spodek Keimowitz ’97 reflected, “He was incredibly patient in explaining difficult concepts, flexible and willing to follow students’ lead on projects. He brought a sense of fun to everything he did—from complicated quantum mechanics to catching (and releasing!) dozens of mice from the lab.”

“His guilelessness was endearing, as was his cutting sense of humor,” reflected Brian Stewart, professor of physics. “His devotion to his students, to his craft, and to science were absolute. The latter evidenced not only by the NSM Luncheon but also by his annual question at the final faculty meeting of the year. Stew was a true mensch, but his was a unique, maybe slightly cockeyed sort of Menschlichkeit.”

Stew is survived by his brother, Dennis. The family will hold a service on Sunday, October 22, at 3:00 p.m. at Summer Hill Cemetery, 564–598 Old Toll Road in Madison, Connecticut. Memorial donations may be made to a charity of one’s choice, in honor of Stew.”

Nicole Stanton
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Dance