Chemist honored after 50 years with University

Seton Hall recently honored chemist and professor Robert L. Augustine, Ph.D., with a symposium and celebration to mark his 50-year anniversary at the University.

After four years of teaching chemistry at the University of Texas in Austin, Augustine came to Seton Hall in 1961. He was one of several new chemistry faculty hired to establish the first doctorate program at the University.

Augustine said he believes that the growth of Seton Hall has allowed its reputation to grow far beyond the border of New Jersey.

“Whenever I attend a national or international meeting, I find that many of the attendees know about Seton Hall,” Augustine said. “They may not know exactly where it is located, but they do recognize the quality of the education and the research being done here.”

He credits the guidance of his high school science teacher, college organic chemistry professor and his Ph.D. mentor as influences who led him to where he is today.

“I remember their enthusiasm for the science and have always tried to pass this on to my students,” Augustine said.

As the executive director of Seton Hall’s Center for Applied Catalysis, Augustine oversees this specialized program that was created in 1997.

“The CAC is unique in that it is the only chemistry lab in the U.S. which is dedicated almost exclusively to the use of heterogeneous catalysts for the synthesis of organic compounds,” Augustine said.

Augustine has been the recipient of numerous awards throughout his career such as the Paul N. Rylander Award for “outstanding achievements in the use of catalysis in organic synthesis” from the Organic Reactions Catalysis Society and the Henry J. Alper Award for “major technical and commercial contributions to the field of precious metals catalysis” from the International Precious Metal Institute.

Augustine said his most memorable moments while teaching at Seton Hall were the graduation of his first Ph.D. student, attending the inauguration of one of his students as president of Millersville State University, receiving the McQuaid Medal from Seton Hall for his service to the campus, and recently the symposium and luncheon held to commemorate his 50 years at Seton Hall.

“I would not trade the past 50 years for anything,” Augustine said. “I consider myself a very lucky man to still be able to do what I like to do at this stage of my career.”

Brittany Jackson can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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