March 1-3, 2006

 

ITEM 130-2009-R0306                Authorization to Confer the Title of Regents’ Professor upon Paul A. Grieco, Montana State University

 

THAT:                                       In recognition of his service to Montana State University and his unique contribution to the science of organic chemistry, the Board of Regents appoints Paul A. Greico as a Regents’ Professor.

 

EXPLANATION:                        Synthesis of new chemical compounds is the central art within the field of chemistry and is an enabling enterprise for all disciplines of science and technology.  A decade ago, Montana State University established a Center for Discovery of Bio-Active Compounds, with the goal of better integrating this specialized art with research programs across the campus, and thus to synergistically advance scientific, technological, and economic ventures.  The university was extremely fortunate at that time to recruit Paul A. Grieco – then the Earl Blough Professor and Chairman of the Department of Chemistry at Indiana University – to relocate to MSU and to be the founding director of the Center.

 

Paul is one the most distinguished scientists in the Montana University System: he is distinguished by the skill and creativity of his work; his international recognition within the scientific community; and his service in return to that community.  Paul forged a reputation early in his career for elegant total synthesis of natural products.  This work included development of new methodologies now widely used by numerous, other research groups.  Paul’s synthesis work later embraced the discovery, synthesis, and collaborative bioassays of a new generation of anti-tumor compounds.  Paul broke new ground with his studies of the behavior of organic reactions in water and other polar media.  This fundamental work has become very “hot” recently as his concepts are being imported into the arena of biochemistry.  Paul authored the definitive monograph on the subject, published while at MSU “Organic Synthesis in Water” (ISBN: 0751404101 - Springer, 1999).

 

Paul has published over 250 articles in scientific journals.  Over a dozen of them have been cited in more than one hundred scientific publications.  In recognition of his achievements, Paul has received many major awards including – from the American Chemical Society – the  Ernest Guenther Award, the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, and the Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry.  He has also been recognized with numerous, named international lectureships.  Paul is admired within the chemistry community for his service to the field, best exemplified by his leading NIH review panels on medicinal chemistry. Moreover, he has transformed every department that he has joined by being a catalyst for the recruitment and professional development of new faculty.

 

At MSU Paul has brought to fruition the founding vision of the Center.  Paul is the campus genius for organic synthesis.  He has generously collaborated with scientists in the Colleges of Letters & Science and Agriculture.  His work has netted substantial dividends to the University.  Paul has raised over six million dollars in research funds during his decade at MSU, not including his contribution to grants for shared instrumentation.  The scope of Paul’s impact also reaches into the private sector in Montana.  In addition to consulting with local technology companies, he is a partner in a new venture – Zdye, LLC in Bozeman – that is highly likely to bring substantial royalties to MSU in the near term.

 

Not to be overlooked, Paul is an outstanding mentor and teacher.  His students achieve.  Over his career, Paul had mentored 98 Ph.D. students and 75 postdoctoral fellows who now hold prominent positions throughout the world in academia and major pharmaceutical firms.  In the classroom, Paul represents the ideal of a teacher scholar. Students give him perfect marks and comment that his synthesis course is enormously challenging, but superbly presented – the best learning experience of their lives. They express the wish that the course could go on longer.

 

Finally, beyond Paul’s excellence as a scholar, it should be mentioned that Paul is also a magnanimous benefactor to the Montana University System.  Being a rancher, from a dairy farming background, Paul has a special love of agriculture.  He has made generous contributions from his personal monies to scholarship and building funds in his own College of Letters and Science and in the College of Agriculture.

 

As a land-grant university with a mission of teaching, research and service, there are few who fulfill that mandate with as much dedication and excellence as Paul Grieco.  The Regents’s Professorship is the highest honor that we can accord him.  We urge the Board of Regents to approve our nomination.