Dr. George K. Schweitzer, Alumni Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry, has been given the Joe Johnson Lifetime Service Award in recognition of his 65 years of dedicated service to the University of Tennessee. UT President Joe DiPietro and UTK Chancellor Jimmy Cheek presented Schweitzer the Award on December 11th, 2013.
“Dr. Schweitzer’s commitment to lifelong learning and his passion for teaching and leading serve as an example for all of us. He represents the best of the University of Tennessee, and I was honored to have the opportunity to recognize and thank him for his service.” said Dr. Joe DiPietro, President, the University of Tennessee System.
Schweitzer is the holder of three doctorates, one in inorganic and nuclear chemistry, one in the history and philosophy of religion, and one for his work in the philosophy of science. He came to UT in 1948 to initiate the inorganic division of the newly-established Ph.D. program in chemistry and to participate in the early UT-Oak Ridge graduate instructional and research program. He has mentored over 130 graduate students, has been elected UT Phi Kappa Phi lecturer, served as UT’s first Mace Bearer, gave the 1996 UT commencement address, and has been named a Distinguished Service Professor by the UT Alumni Association.
Schweitzer has lectured at numerous universities, scientific and historical organizations, and has made sizable contributions to associations interested in the intersecting spheres of science and theology.
Schweitzer has done research work in the fields of radiocolloids, nuclear recoil, photoelectron spectroscopy, solvent extraction, rare-earth chemistry, and radioactivity detection, and continues in the area of mechanochemistry. In addition to his scientific interests, Schweitzer serves as an officer of the East Tennessee Historical Society, docent in the Museum of East Tennessee History, and offers monthly courses in family history research.
Jamie Adcock, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Chemistry, has known Schweitzer for almost forty years since she joined the Department in 1974. Schweitzer was her “mentor” at the time. “He was a delight to know and work with. He spoke at my retirement gathering and as always was in top form and funny too. I have never heard an unkind word from him. He always supported me in my career. The perfect colleague!” Adcock said.
Schweitzer is loved by everyone inside the Department. “The one thing that impresses me the most about Dr. Schweitzer, he is always the same, day in and day out.” Sharon Marshall, Business Manager of the Department said. “He treats everyone with respect and enjoys a wonderful sense of humor. He always makes me feel good with his upbeat, happy mood and his funny stories.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed working with him.” John Auxier, a Ph.D. student who worked in his group for three years said. “Dr. Schweitzer was genuinely interested in seeing his students succeed, and was not bent upon trying to see his success through his students. He genuinely cared whether or not you as the student were going to succeed.”
Schweitzer is not only a professor, a teacher, a colleague and a friend, for many people inside the Department, he’s also an inspiration. “It is remarkable that after 65 years Dr. Schweitzer continues to have the enthusiasm and love for his work. It is a true inspiration to see someone at 90 years of age that continues to contribute his knowledge and experiences to the younger generations.” Marshall said.