John W. “Jay” Thoman Jr., Class of 1982

Students simply adore your teaching. Appropriately, for a physical chemist, you emit energy; they absorb it.

As you bound around classrooms that always feel too small for your lanky frame, they eagerly fill their notebooks with concepts, equations and your hysterical quips.

You take great delight in instruction. You go all out to support every student. Your lectures are renowned for clarity. Your in-class demonstrations are celebrated. (And some are literally explosive!)

In the lab, you shine laser light onto molecules to unlock their deepest secrets. You’ve also developed a focus on environmental chemistry, characterizing PCBs, heavy metals and other contamination here in the Berkshires. In both lines of work you are a generous collaborator; in both, your students learn chemistry and analytical techniques ordinarily not taught until graduate school.

A stalwart on powerhouse Williams swimming teams as an undergraduate, you have remained a team player. You leaped in wherever needed in chemistry; in environmental studies, you were a key contributor to the introductory course. Somehow, you have found time nearly every year to teach your wildly popular Winter Study in glassblowing.

And talk about a team player: You held the demanding role of college marshal for seven years. You ensured that Williams ceremonies like this one proceeded with the optimal balance of solemnity and joy; tradition and efficiency.

It is more than apt that, since 2008, you have held a chair endowed in honor of a Williams icon, your mentor and friend Hodge Markgraf. Like Hodge, you love students, you love chemistry and you love Williams.

I hereby declare you the J. Hodge Markgraf Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, entitled to all the rights, honors, and privileges appertaining thereto.

June 5, 2022