The Department of Chemistry at Victoria College, under the headship of Professor Lewis Clark, provided the nucleus for the organization which has grown into the present multi-faceted Department. Prior to the University being granted autonomy in 1963, a special arrangement was in effect with the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, enabling the chemistry students who completed three years work at Victoria to graduate with the BSc degree after completion of a fourth and final year at UBC.


In the fall of 1963 the Chemistry Department took up residence on the present campus, occupying part of the science building named to honour Professor Percy Harris Elliott, Professor of Chemistry and Physics, and Principal of Victoria College from 1927 to 1943. The years following 1963 saw a period of growth with many organizational changes and developments, including expansion of the faculty, introduction of new undergraduate courses, commencement of the graduate school (1966) and the establishment of the technical shops. Research activities were expanded and the first major pieces of instrumental equipment were obtained. In 1968, under Dr Stephen Ryce a restructuring commenced, curriculum changes were made, additional accommodation was acquired and support facilities were expanded.


With the introduction of the Co-op program in 1976, the Department adopted the overall posture in effect today. The next fourteen years saw continued steady growth in all the programs, additional space in the Science and Engineering building providing the much needed room for expansion in 1986. The Co-operative Education program grew to both national and international status.


During the early nineties a number of new faculty hirings expanded the breadth of the research activities. Another period of sustained and exciting growth is unfolding as the Department has moved into the next century. 10 of the current faculty members were hired since 2000.

Departmental Heads and Chairs

Since the move to the present site in 1963, the following persons have been Head (1963-1973) or Chair (since 1973) of Chemistry:

  • 2011-present Neil Burford
  • 2011 Frank van Veggel (Jan-Jun)
  • 2010 Penelope Codding (Jul-Dec)
  • 2009-2010 David A. Harrington
  • 2008 Thomas M. Fyles
  • 2007 Penelope Codding
  • 2002 Cornelia Bohne (Acting, Jul-Dec)
  • 2001-06 Thomas M. Fyles
  • 1998-01 Peter C. Wan
  • 1996-97 Gerald A. Poulton (Acting)
  • 1989-98 Terence E. Gough
  • 1984-89 Gerald A. Poulton
  • 1982-83 Reginald H. Mitchell (Acting)
  • 1979-84 Alexander McAuley
  • 1975-76 Graham R. Branton (Acting)
  • 1973-79 Alexander D. Kirk
  • 1972-73 Alfred Fischer (Acting)
  • 1968-73 Stephen A. Ryce
  • 1967-68 Austin C. Riddiford
  • 1966-67 Donald J. MacLaurin (Acting)
  • 1963-66 Lewis J. Clark

 The Department has also provided, over the years, many people to higher administrative posts within the University.