Back to his roots
Professor supports the launch of a million careers
BY ROBIN CHENOWETH
The influence of Arthur Friedel, ’68 PhD, as a chemistry and science education professor is like embryo cell division: it multiplies exponentially.
At a celebration hosted by Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne for Friedel’s 80th birthday, Eric Link, dean of Arts and Sciences, said, “Let’s do some math. Let’s say Professor Friedel was instrumental in launching the careers of five science education students per year over (his) 50-year career (at the university).
If they all taught 150 students per year over 25 years, he played a vital role in educating almost one million students.”
Tony Phillips, a former Friedel student, bears this out: “I have dozens of past students who now teach, at least three science teachers and a boat-load of engineers and doctors,” Phillips wrote. “You have a huge heart and I hope you know you passed it forward. I tried to share my love of science and learning, but mostly it is about being there, being real and listening. You are the man I credit for my career. Thank you, Art.”
Friedel, who still teaches chemistry courses to pre-med, pre-dentistry and pre-nursing students, has a teaching philosophy that his students appreciate. “Based on what I learned from observing teachers for my PhD dissertation, teachers talk too much,” he said. “So I always told my pre-service teachers, ‘Be sure to get kids asking questions, because people who win Nobel Prizes ask the right questions.’”
He recommended encouraging questions by performing experiments, for instance, making a penny float on a liquid. Students could pose only yes or no questions, and they asked because they were intrigued.
Today, Friedel takes pleasure in a particular career perk. “My primary physician, my dentist and my ophthalmologist are all my former students,” he said.
Friedel remains a loyal Buckeye. He endowed an EHE scholarship in science education because he grew up poor and couldn’t go to college without help.
“With my parents not graduating high school and my getting a PhD, that’s a big jump in one generation. None of this would have happened but for Ohio State.”