Grateful Terp Names First Space in New Chemistry Building

The anonymous donor named the Signature Dissertation and Meeting Room in honor of Sandra Greer, the first female chair of the department.


The University of Maryland’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry received its inaugural gift in support of the new Chemistry Building, which is under construction and expected to open by the end of 2023.

The anonymous donor, who is also an alum, donated $500,000 to name the Signature Dissertation and Meeting Room in the new building in honor of Sandra Greer, the first female chair of the department.

“We are so grateful for this generous gift and the opportunity to honor Dr. Greer, a pioneering female chemist who has advanced science through her research on critical phenomena, her advocacy for women in science, and her work on ethics in science,” said Janice Reutt-Robey, current chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

About the New Chemistry Building

For a powerhouse department aiming to become one of the nation’s top 10 programs, the new state-of-the-art Chemistry Building will support the department’s cutting-edge research and innovative programs in  energy and environmental sustainability,  drug discovery and delivery, and quantum chemistry well into the future.

Occupying the site of the chemistry complex’s now-demolished Wing 1, the new six-floor structure will include 34 research labs, two core research facilities, 13 meeting and huddle rooms, and 13,000 square feet of technology-enhanced office space.

Altogether, the building will encompass 105,000 square feet of purpose-driven research

and learning areas:

  • 55% dedicated to research labs
  • 25% dedicated to research workspaces
  • 20% dedicated to community space

The overall goal: to catalyze a new era for chemistry and biochemistry at UMD.

About Sandra Greer

Dr. Sandra Greer
Dr. Sandra Greer

Greer is a physical chemist with expertise in the area of fluid thermodynamics, specializing in polymer solutions and phase transitions. When she joined UMD in 1978, Greer was the first woman hired on a regular full-time research tenure track in the Department of Chemistry (now Chemistry & Biochemistry)t. She was promoted to professor in 1983 and served as the first woman department chair from 1990-93. In 1995, Greer was also appointed professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering (now Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering), becoming the department's first tenured female faculty member.

From 1987-88, she chaired the President’s Committee on Undergraduate Education, developing an extensive report, “Making a Difference for Women.” Also known as the “Greer Report,” it became the university’s blueprint for the advancement of women. At the national level, she helped to found the Committee for the Advancement of Women in the Chemical Sciences (COACh) in 1998

The university honored her contributions with the 1998 Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Award; the 2008 Pride Award of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community; the 2008 William E. Kirwan Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education; and the 2011 A. James Clarke School of Engineering Wall of Commitment Award. The American Chemical Society awarded her the 2004 Francis P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal and the 2014 Award for Encouraging Women into Careers in the Chemical Sciences.

In 2008, Sandra C. Greer became provost and dean of the faculty at Mills College in Oakland, California, where she was also a professor of chemistry and physics, and holder of the Scheffler Pre-Health Science Chair. She retired as provost and dean in 2013 and retired fully in 2015. In retirement, she published a book, Elements of Ethics for Physical Scientists, and she has another book in press for publication in 2023, Chemistry for Cooks.