Three McMurry Alumni Honored at McMurry’s Math and Science Advisory Board Dinner

  Gary Ellison
  Thursday, October 22, 2015 3:21 PM
  Archives 2014 - 2015

Abilene, TX

Three of McMurry University’s prominent alumni scientists and science educators will be honored by the Math and Science Advisory Board at an awards dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, October 24, in the Garrison Campus Center Mabee Room.

The Science and Math Advisory Board was formed in 1992 for the purpose of enabling McMurry science and mathematics programs to tap into the expertise of its alumni and friends.

Jerald D. Lee received his B.A. from McMurry in 1961. As a recipient of a National Defense Education Act Fellowship, he graduated with a Ph.D. in physics from Ohio University in 1966. Upon completion of his doctorate, he was hired by DuPont as a research physicist at the Experimental Station in Wilmington, Delaware.

In the following years, Dr. Lee published several articles and received 18 patents. These patents include electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis, a reflectance spectrophotometer colorimeter, a bar code reader, an optical fiber switch, a two-dimensional holographic image projection system, and digital radiography.

An Abilene native, Dr. Lee retired in 1999 as a DuPont Fellow, the highest position in science within the organization. His research continued well after retirement. He performed work as a consultant for Qualicon, a DuPont subsidiary, and during this time developed the BAX system for detecting harmful bacteria in food and water.

In 2002, Dr. Lee was awarded the Excellence in Engineering award by Dupont.  He was known for applying simple solutions to difficult problems. He died in August of 2013.

Larry F. Conlee received his B.A. Degree in Physics in 1971. He participated in the special program in “Piezoelectricity” taught by Dr. Virgil E. Bottom on weekends. This program led to three summer internships at Hewlett-Packard in California and a position as a “crystal engineer” with Motorola, Inc in Chicago. At Motorola he improved the quality and the utilization of the synthetic quartz used in the devices made for use in pagers, 2-way radios, and the first generation of cellular telephones.

The Clyde, Texas, native completed his M.S. in Management at Lake Forest College in Illinois, cum laude, in 1977. In 1980 he was promoted to Product Manager, responsible for development engineering, marketing, and the P&L in the quartz crystal business.

He transferred to the cellular telephone business of Motorola in November, 1983. Initial responsibilities included product development, marketing, and the P&L for the markets of England and Japan. The first digital cellular phones, GSM, were developed by his team in 1992. In 1993 he became General Manager of the Pan-American Group for cellular telephones.

In 2001 he joined Research In Motion (BlackBerry) as Chief Operating Officer, Product Development and Manufacturing, in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Responsibilities included the P&L Management, Quality, Standards and Licensing, and IT/Network. In July, 2009 he was recognized as “TOP COO”(Chief Operating Officer) in Canada. His “transition to retirement” was announced in July, 2009.

His areas of community service include the United Methodist Church, United Way, Science and Math Advisory Board at McMurry, and youth sports.

W.L. Magnuson received the B.A. degree in Chemistry and Mathematics from McMurry College in 1959, graduating magna cum laude, and the Ph.D. degree in Inorganic Chemistry from Kansas University in 1963. 

From 1963-1969 he was Assistant Professor of Chemistry at McMurry.  In addition to teaching, he supervised undergraduate research through grants from the Research Corporation and the Robert A. Welch Foundation. 

In 1969 he assumed the chairmanship of the Chemistry Department at Kentucky Wesleyan College.  Dr. Magnuson co-authored numerous grant proposals, resulting in funding in scientific equipment purchases and in the Directorship of several National Science Foundation Science Training Programs in Chemistry for high school students across the nation. 

In 1983 he conducted research in the area of Organometallic Chemistry at Vanderbilt University.

Throughout his academic career, he has tried to follow in the footsteps of his mentor, Dr. W. Norton Jones, Jr. by promoting careers in chemistry and chemistry-related areas and assisting students to gain admission to graduate and health science professional schools. Thirty of the graduates have received the Ph.D. Degree in chemistry and more than one hundred received other advanced degrees.

Among his recognitions at Kentucky Wesleyan are the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, the Gus E. Paris Distinguished Service Award and the Presidential Leadership Award.  He currently serves as Treasurer of the Indiana-Kentucky Border Section of the American Chemical Society.  

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Gary Ellison