FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | January 29, 2016

Vanderbilt names STEM diversity chair in honor of American Chemical Society board member

WASHINGTON— Vanderbilt University has created a new chair to promote diversity and inclusion and named it to honor a director-at-large of the American Chemical Society (ACS). The Dorothy J. Phillips Chair to Support Diversity in STEM will encourage minority participation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Phillips, a biochemist who has had a distinguished 40-year career in industry, was one of the first African-Americans to graduate from Vanderbilt.

“This is an incredible honor. When you take the steps forward, when you stay the course and you work very hard, often you are blessed. And this to me is a blessing,” Phillips says.

The chair was recently announced by Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos at the university’s Fall Faculty Assembly, at which he stated that addressing issues of diversity, inclusion and culture are his top priority. Phillips feels that this honor gives her the responsibility to work with the university in achieving this priority.

In 1967, Phillips became the first African-American woman to receive an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt. She received her doctorate from the University of Cincinnati in 1974. She has been an ACS member since 1973 and was elected to a three-year term on the Society’s board of directors in 2013. She worked for Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Michigan, and Waters Corporation, an analytical laboratory instrument manufacturing company in Milford, Massachusetts. At Waters, she climbed the corporate ladder from research and development scientist to director. She retired in 2013.

Phillips lives in Natick, Massachusetts, with her husband, James.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 158,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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Dorothy J. Phillips, Ph.D.
Photo courtesy of Dorothy J. Phillips
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