Dr. Gerald L. R. Weatherspoon is the newly elected Chair for the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at George Mason University (Fairfax, VA). He has served as Associate Chair for the past seven years. In 2002, he became the first African-American tenured in science and engineering at the university, as well in a chemistry department at a flagship university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2016, there are only two African-Americans tenured in chemistry departments at flagship universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Dr. Weatherspoon is the only African-American tenured in the College of Science at GMU. He will go down in history as being the first African-American to serve as Chair for any department in science and engineering at the university.
Dr. Weatherspoon, a native of Mississippi, earned his B.S. in Chemistry from Jackson State University (Jackson, MS) and his Ph.D. from the University of California at Davis (Davis, CA). He was the first African-American to earn a doctorate from the Solid State Inorganic Chemistry group, where he focused on the “Electrochemical Synthesis of Oxide Superconductors”. Afterwards, he completed postdoctoral studies at AT&T Bell Laboratories (now Lucent Technologies in Murray Hill, NJ), where he focused on superconductors, dielectrics and mixed transition-metal oxides as potential bifunctional electrodes in battery systems.
Since arriving at GMU in 1996, he has served as advisor for several organizations, including the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students (MAPS). He has also served on the Medical School Advisory Committee (MSAC) for the university; coordinator the graduate program, General Chemistry, and graduate teaching assistants; chaired academic program review assessment teams for Chemistry, Software Engineering, Physics & Astronomy, and the Philosophy & Anthropology programs. In 1999, Dr. Weatherspoon became the first faculty member in his department to receive a university-wide outstanding teaching award. In 2015, he was a recipient of the Teaching Excellence Award at GMU, making him the first African American male to receive this distinction. He is a member of Alpha Lambda Delta, the Golden Key National Honor Society, and most recently (2016) the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society; the American Chemical Society (ACS), the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists & Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE); a past board member of the Angie Kennedy Educational Foundation and a current board member of the Glenn Dale Woods HOA, as well as a former member of the Chorus Choir at Metropolitan Baptist Church.
Dr. Weatherspoon has a reputation of being one of the hardest professors in the department and some students enroll in his courses (undergraduate and graduate) for bragging rights—-to brag to their friends and family that they actually passed one of his classes. He spends his spare time mentoring GMU students and students from other universities. Dr. Weatherspoon is the Immediate Past Regional Director of Education for Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated. He received the award for being the Outstanding Regional Director of Education at the 2013 Philadelphia Conclave.