VCU Chemistry presents:
The annual Mary E. Kapp Lecture in Chemistry brings a chemist of international reputation to the department for a two-day visit. This lecture honors Kapp, the first chairperson of the department, who guided the department through its formative years. Kapp established an endowment for the department from her estate. This endowment, in excess of $3.5 million, was established specifically to support the graduate program in chemistry. It is currently used to fund the seminar program, assistantships for doctoral candidates, and graduate student travel to scientific meetings where they present papers.
Mary Eugenia Kapp was born on April 15, 1909, in Mount Airy, North Carolina. She received the A. B. degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the M. A. degree from Duke University, and the Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
From 1931 to 1934 she was head of the science department at Blackstone College, and from 1938 to 1939 she was head of the science department at Averett College. Dr. Kapp was a chemistry instructor at Sophie Newcomb College of Tulane University in New Orleans from 1939 to 1940. In 1940 she joined the faculty of Richmond Professional Institute (RPI) of the College of William and Mary as assistant professor of chemistry and head of the chemistry department. During World War II, Dr. Kapp worked as assistant chief of chemistry for Du Pont in Richmond. Returning to RPI in 1946, she was promoted to associate professor.
In 1952 she was promoted to professor and made chairperson of the School of Applied Sciences, and she continued as chair of the Chemistry Department in that school. This school was reorganized in 1966 and made a part of the newly created School of Arts and Sciences, where Dr. Kapp remained as chairperson. She continued in this position when RPI and the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) merged to become Virginia Commonwealth University in 1968 and until her retirement in 1972. Dr. Kapp was a fellow of the Virginia Academy of Sciences and a member of the American Chemical Society. In 1952 she became the first woman elected chair of the society’s Virginia Section, and she received that group’s Distinguished Service Award in 1969. She was a member of the American Institute of Chemists and the Southern Association of Science and Industry, and she was listed in Who’s Who in America.