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Ohio Wesleyan University Honors Alumni Legacies
Schimmel/Conrades Science Center Named in Recognition of Technology, Biochemistry Pioneers

October 9, 2010

DELAWARE, OH – Ohio Wesleyan University is christening its state-of-the-art science building as the Schimmel/Conrades Science Center in recognition of pioneering work in genetic research and Internet technology by its alumni.

The 150,000-square-foot center is named in recognition of Paul R. and Cleo Ritz Schimmel, both graduates of Ohio Wesleyan’s Class of 1962, and George H. and Patricia Belt Conrades, who graduated in 1961 and 1963, respectively. The building has carried the Conrades name since it opened in 2004.

At Ohio Wesleyan, Paul Schimmel majored in pre-professional medicine and Cleo Ritz Schimmel in education. Later, Paul earned his doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and remained on the MIT faculty from 1967 to 1997. Currently, he heads the Schimmel-Yang Laboratory at The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., where he also is the Hahn Professor of Molecular Chemistry. Cleo Ritz Schimmel is a retired teacher.

Paul Schimmel’s major research initiatives have concentrated on decoding genetic information, with an emphasis on understanding the universal genetic code. He is the author or co-author of more than 450 scientific papers and of a widely used three-volume textbook on biophysical chemistry. He holds several patents and is a cofounder or founding director of 11 biotechnology companies, all of which are working to develop new therapies for human diseases and disorders.

Both Schimmels credit Ohio Wesleyan with giving them a strong foundation for their lives and careers.

“The faculty at Ohio Wesleyan inspired our interest in learning and the creation of knowledge through research,” they said. “Whether it was English composition, literature, Greek mythology, history, or physics and chemistry, we were humbled by our ignorance. And yet the faculty also had the capacity for humility. They understood that they had not only to teach, but also to learn and grow as they taught and, thereby, to inspire as they taught.

“This precious culture of intellectual transparency fostered personal growth and is itself the only secure foundation for learning and for knowledge creation,” the Schimmels said. “This same university atmosphere attracted George and Patsy Conrades, who know and understand Ohio Wesleyan in the way that we do and, like us, will do all they can to nourish, support, and preserve a national jewel. We will always cherish the Ohio Wesleyan experience that brought us together and to the true roots of education. The Schimmel/Conrades Science Center is more than a building—it is a place of humility, learning, and knowledge creation.”

While at Ohio Wesleyan, George Conrades majored in physics and mathematics, and “Patsy” Belt Conrades majored in physical education. The Boston, Mass., residents are long-time supporters of Ohio Wesleyan, especially committed to supporting and enhancing the science curriculum. Among their many gifts, they helped to support construction of Ohio Wesleyan’s science center.

After graduating, George earned his MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. Currently, he is chairman of Akamai Technologies Inc., which provides market-leading, cloud-based services for optimizing Web and mobile content and applications, online HD video, and secure e-commerce. Prior to joining Akamai in 1999, he served as executive vice president of GTE Corporation, chief executive officer of BBN Corporation, and senior vice president and member of the corporate management board at IBM. Patsy earned her nursing degree and still spends time assisting in the operating room of Boston’s Mt. Auburn Hospital.

George and Patsy Conrades also credit their Ohio Wesleyan experiences with preparing them for their future careers and instilling them with an ethic of service.

“Our studies, and especially the guidance of our professors, have led to intellectually satisfying and rewarding careers,” they said. “More than that, our Ohio Wesleyan experience has provided a lifetime of highly enriching personal associations with our friends and colleagues, Paul and Cleo Schimmel, as well as Nancy and John Schneider, to give just two examples. Both Paul and Nancy have distinguished careers in their chosen fields of scientific endeavor and have, in turn, been generous in supporting future generations of Ohio Wesleyan students and faculty.”

Ohio Wesleyan President Rock Jones, Ph.D., said naming the university’s science facilities in honor of the Schimmel and Conrades families is a wonderful way to recognize their accomplishments and to inspire current and future students.

“These are wonderful legacies,” Jones said. “Paul and George are Ohio Wesleyan fraternity brothers who majored in the sciences, but took divergent paths after graduation—George to the pinnacle of a computer industry that barely existed prior to his graduation, and Paul to the frontiers of science and, perhaps, to the very beginnings of life on Earth.

“Like George and Patsy Conrades, who so often have stepped forward to assist their alma mater, especially in the construction of the facility that has carried their name from the beginning, Paul and Cleo Schimmel are longtime supporters of Ohio Wesleyan, most notably through the Schimmel Scholarship, awarded each year to an incoming female student with an outstanding academic record and demonstrated leadership abilities,” Jones continued. “It is appropriate that the names of these two families be joined on this place of research, teaching, and learning. We are delighted to recognize their friendship and their contributions to the life of the university.”

The Schimmel/Conrades Science Center is home to Ohio Wesleyan’s departments of botany/microbiology, chemistry, geology and geography, mathematics and computer science, physics and astronomy, and zoology. The 150,000-square-foot center also houses the university’s environmental studies, pre-health studies, and urban studies programs. It features an array of sophisticated equipment for hands-on use by OWU students including a scanning electron microscope, Fourier transform nuclear magnetic resonance and infrared spectrometers, and a research petrographic microscope.

In September, Ohio Wesleyan received a $436,366 National Science Foundation grant to purchase a new scanning transmission electron microscope, which will provide additional research capabilities. The new microscope is expected to be ready for use in fall 2011.

Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities, with more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 Division III varsity sports. Located in Delaware, Ohio, just minutes north of Ohio’s capital and largest city, Columbus, the university combines a globally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that translate classroom theory into real-world practice. OWU’s close-knit community of 1,850 students represents 45 states and 52 countries. Ohio Wesleyan earned a 2009 Presidential Award for Excellence in General Community Service, is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” and is included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at www.owu.edu.