When University of Akron students return to class in the fall, those who study in the Knight Chemical Laboratory building will have Fairlawn, Ohio-based OMNOVA Solutions to thank – both for a completely renovated advanced teaching lab and for new instrumentation.
A multiyear gift from the company’s foundation funded the major overhaul of one of the building’s eight laboratories, including the purchase and installation of new laboratory and instrument benches, sinks, wall-mounted cabinetry, and flooring, as well as painting and ceiling repairs. The grant from OMNOVA Solutions Foundation also covered the cost of two new instruments: a gas chromatography mass spectrometer and an inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometer.
To thank OMNOVA for its generosity and showcase the recently renovated laboratory, the University hosted a dedication ceremony June 15 for OMNOVA executives, University administrators, and members of the Chemistry Department. Held at the renovated facility, the gathering included the unveiling of a permanent plaque inscribed with the teaching lab’s new name: The OMNOVA Solutions Chemistry Laboratory.
"We are very pleased to continue our commitment to the community and our long partnership with The University of Akron through the funding of this important project," said Kevin McMullen, chairman and CEO of OMNOVA Solutions, who spoke at the dedication ceremony. "OMNOVA has a thriving internship program with the University, and we have many University of Akron graduates working in numerous positions, particularly in our Global Technology Center, just a few miles away. Helping to make sure chemistry students have laboratory facilities that will prepare them for real-world experience is part of creating a brighter future for the students, the University, and OMNOVA Solutions."
Built in 1976, the Knight Chemical Laboratory building is part of the University’s Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences. The newly dedicated lab, which supports the College’s dynamic educational delivery to students, is utilized by all chemistry majors and chemical undergraduate students. In recent years, the Chemistry Department has experienced an increase in student enrollment and presently serves more than 160 undergraduate chemistry majors and more than 60 graduate students – as well as more than 5,000 students from various other disciplines.
“One of the greatest challenges for the Chemistry Department is to maintain modern chemical laboratories and to keep the chemical instrumentation in our undergraduate courses up to date,” said Kim Calvo, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry at The University of Akron. These initiatives are expensive; however, thanks to financial support from companies like OMNOVA Solutions, the University has the ability to continuously improve the educational opportunities and learning environment required for our undergraduate students.”
OMNOVA Solutions is a technology-based innovator of emulsion polymers, specialty chemicals, and decorative and functional surfaces for a variety of commercial, industrial, and residential end uses. Formed in 1999 when it was spun off from GenCorp Inc., OMNOVA employs approximately 2,300 worldwide and is a vital part of the Akron community – and a vital corporate partner to The University of Akron.
OMNOVA Solutions and the OMNOVA Solutions Foundation (and previously GenCorp) have provided more than $4 million of support to the University over the years, including generous contributions to the colleges of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering, Arts and Sciences, Education, Business Administration, Engineering, University Libraries, and the Performing Arts.