Gilbert ("Gil") Pierce Haight (1922-2015) was professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) from 1966 to 1989. He was an accomplished researcher, educator, and administrator known for his innovative approaches to chemical education.
Haight was born in Seattle, Washington, on June 8, 1922, and grew up on Bainbridge Island, Washington. He earned a B.S. in chemistry from Stanford University (1943) and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Princeton University (1947). During this period, he also worked as a research associate on the WWII Manhattan Project (1943-46). He was a Rhodes Scholar in chemistry at Oxford University (1947-48) and afterwards held faculty positions at the University of Hawaii (1948-49), George Washington University (1949-52), University of Kansas (1952-54), Swarthmore College (1954-65), Wagner Free Institute of Science (1955-61), and Texas A&M (1965-66). His research interests included redox processes, nitrogen fixation, and introductory chemical education.
At UIUC, Haight authored several textbooks, including Chemical Principles (1970), and became renowned for leading the general chemistry program. Haight's pioneering lecture style, inspired by his Princeton chemistry professor Hubert Alyea (1903-1996) and the lecture tradition at the Royal Society of London, incorporated live demonstration and experiments as well as multimedia and video experiences. His popular annual Christmas lecture series was staged at Foellinger Auditorium to accommodate demand. Haight was recognized for his contributions to chemical education with the Manufacturing Chemists Association's Catalyst Award (1976) and the American Chemical Society Science Award (1989).
Haight married Shirley Grapek in 1946, and together they had six children. He died on April 17, 2015.
Mitchell, Melissa, "Haight goes out in puff of smoke," Illini Week, December 8, 1988.
"Haight, Gilbert Pierce (1922-2015)," Department of Chemistry (UIUC), accessed May 14, 2020, https://chemistry.illinois.edu/spotlight/faculty/haight-gilbert-pierce-1922-2015.
"Gilbert P. Haight Jr.," Chemical and Engineering News 93, no. 42 (October 26, 2015): p. 34, accessed online, May 14, 2020, https://cen.acs.org/articles/93/i42/Gilbert-P-Haight-Jr.html.
Description: Papers of Gilbert P. Haight (1922- ), professor of chemistry (1966-87), includes reprints (1951-2002) and biographical material relating to chemistry education; chemical research; American Chemical Society's education division; Christmas lectures (annual events sponsored by the Chemistry Department); biographical clippings, especially concerning Haight's "Christmas Chemistry Lectures," a scrapbook of newspaper clippings relating to the Policy Committee on Student Affairs under Prof. Haight's chairmanship (1970-71); and two taped oral history interviews (2002) of Prof. Haight by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne concerning his career as a researcher, educator, and administrator. This series also contains copies of articles and textbooks co-authored by Haight.