A Chemical Reaction: On Melvin Miller, Ph.D.
Leonard Andrews, '66, Ph.D., on Melvin Miller, '57, Ph.D.
April 2, 2012
When Leonard Andrews, ’66, came to Loyola to study chemistry, he was bound to cross paths with Melvin Miller, ’57, then-professor of chemistry. Miller gave the Calvert Hall College graduate a test so he could place out of freshman chemistry, taught him physical chemistry, and invited him to do summer research in an earlier version of the Hauber Fellowship program.
“He gave me a topic to work on during that summertime—electrical conductivity of organic molten salts. I had never done anything like that, and coming from high school, we were all very eager to learn as much as we could. The opportunity to do real chemistry work was very appealing to me,” Andrews said. “He was mentoring me and others as well.”
The summer research itself, Andrews recalls was “a complete failure.” Miller’s mentoring and teaching, however, and that of his Loyola chemistry colleagues helped Andrews earn a Ph.D. in Chemistry at Case Western Reserve University. Andrews then went on to a 24-year career with GTE Laboratories in Waltham, Mass. Since 2000, Andrews has managed the software system architecture and system business requirements supporting Verizon’s domestic network operations for Verizon Communications—adding a Master of Arts in Information Technology from Harvard in 2004.
“The experience at Loyola set me up to succeed in my career,” said Andrews, who is married to Judith—also a chemist—and has two daughters. “Chemistry is a cumulative science, so you have to get the basics in all the coursework as an undergraduate. It gave me a very, very firm foundation for graduate school. The experience at graduate school was almost dead easy after the preparation at Loyola.”
Andrews and Miller also rubbed shoulders through the Radio Club. When Andrews graduated, they stayed in touch, and Miller invited his former student to give a student seminar on his research at GTE Laboratories. They are still in touch today.
“Mel Miller taught a wonderful course in physical chemistry, and was a great mentor throughout my time at Loyola,” said Andrews, who also remembers another chemistry professor, Norbert Zaczek, who had a great impact on his education. But Miller was someone he stayed in touch with for years after graduation. “He was very good, very thorough, very articulate, very prepared.”