Gary and his twin brother were the first in their family to attend colleges. Their parents never graduated from high school, but they were leaders in their farming community in Oregon and very supportive of education. They were proud when both of their sons achieved Ph.D. degree in chemistry. Sue grew up in a small town on the Eastern Shore and was also the first in her family to go to college. The University of Maryland was a big step for her, someone who had seldom traveled outside of Salisbury.
Gary entered graduate school at Maryland to pursue an M.S. degree en route to becoming a high school chemistry teacher, but his research professor, Bill Purdy, convinced him to continue for a doctoral degree. He received excellent training and skills from every chemistry professor, and he left Maryland well prepared for a long and rewarding academic career.
Sue came to Maryland with-shall we say-less focus. The careers open to women in the late 1950s were mainly teacher, nurse or secretary. None of those excited her passion, so she registered for any classes that sounded interesting, from phonetics to algebra to beekeeping. Four years later, she had a B.A. degree in English and a good start toward becoming a citizen of the world.
The University of Maryland provided us each with priceless knowledge and skills, very different but equally valuable. Education changed our lives, and we try to share that opportunity as broadly as we can. We have provided educational support over the years for children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces, and to the University of Maryland.
We are pleased that our gift a few years ago to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry continues to help deserving students. This convinced us to make a new $100,000 gift establishing an endowment to support the department’s teaching laboratory in the Edward St. John Learning and Teaching Center. It will help buy new instruments, replace any equipment that breaks and fund more sophisticated and expensive experiments.
It is rewarding to know that our support for the Gary and Sue Christian Teaching Laboratory will benefit students in perpetuity, and we hope this encourages others to be a part of this exciting venture.
Gary Christian is a professor emeritus at the University of Washington, and Sue Christian is retired from ownership in an analytical chemistry instrument company.