2000 Henry Abrash

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Dr. Henry Abrash
2000 Agnes Ann Green Distinguished Service Award Recipient

Dr. Henry Abrash always knew he wanted to be a chemistry professor. His volunteer activities with the Southern California Section ACS involving chemistry education, teacher training workshops, and science demonstrations for the general public are natural extensions of his devotion to and life-long passion for chemistry education. He joined the American Chemical Society while he was a graduate student at Caltech, where he completed his thesis in 1960. After a short post-doc appointment at the University of Wisconsin, he joined the chemistry faculty at California State University Northridge in 1961. He began his service to the Southern California Section in 1969 as a member of the Education Committee. Since then, he has served in many capacities — official and ad hoc. Now semi-retired, Dr. Abrash volunteers once a week at the California Science Center, explaining and demonstrating exhibits to museum-goers.

During much of his participation in our Section’s activities, Dr. Abrash has been involved with the High School Chemistry Contest. During the years in which we made up our own examinations, he worked with another Section volunteer to develop the exam questions. He often set up sites for the exam, and in more recent years, has helped with the laboratory part of the National Chemistry Olympiad examination. On the post-secondary level, Dr. Abrash not only served as chair of the Undergraduate Research Conference each time the event was hosted by CSUN, but has also taken on the task of coordinating the rotation of conference host schools since 1995.

Always ready to step up to the plate when needed, Dr. Abrash served the Southern California Section as Alternate Councilor for five separate terms: 1984-86, 1986-88, 1988-91, 1994-96, and 2000-02. He served as Councilor for the 1997-99 term, representing our Section twice-yearly at the Council Meetings during the national ACS meetings.

Elected to be 1995 Chair of the Southern California Section, Dr. Abrash dutifully fulfilled his obligations as Chair-Elect and Program Chair the year prior, and Internal Affairs Chair the year after. While Chair of the Internal Affairs Committee, he convened a group of people to seriously examine the Section’s Work Manual and By-Laws. This committee made recommendations for smoother leadership operations.

Dr. Abrash has done a little bit of everything for the Section. He chaired a Teachers’ Symposium in 1982. He served on the Section Directory Committee in 1986 and 1992. He served as the Tolman Award Committee Chair 1991-1992. For many years, he has been a major presence in the Section’s National Chemistry Week activities. This year, he focused his energy on his duties as Chair of the Nominations and Elections Committee, a very important and difficult obligation.

Dr. Henry Abrash takes his volunteer commitments seriously with a humble energy that inspires and impresses those who have worked with him. How his colleague volunteers view him is best summarized by this quote from someone who supported his award nomination:

“Henry has applied himself to our local section with a kindness and gentleness that is extraordinary…His whole attitude makes all of us feel welcome as colleagues and friends. He has a true spirit of volunteering that goes beyond what is asked or needed. This is the true spirit of…” the Agnes Ann Green Distinguished Service Award.