Number 28 John L. Burmeister, Editor August, 2001


Our Department initiated its Great Leap Forward program in graduate education at the start of the 70's. Prof. Luigi Venanzi, who served as our Chairman from 1971-73, played a pivotal role in generating the necessary initial momentum. Sadly, he succumbed to colon cancer in Zurich, Switzerland, on October 11, 2000.

Luigi was, quite literally, a citizen of the world. Born in Italy, and fluent in several languages, he received his Dipl. Chem. in 1952 from the University of Kiel, Germany. In 1958, he earned his D. Phil. from Oxford University. His initial teaching position in the U.S. was at SUNY-Albany, from which he moved to Newark, in 1971, as the E. I. duPont de Nemours Professor and Chairman of the Department of Chemistry. In 1973, he returned to Europe, as the Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at the Swiss Eidgenossiche Technische Hochschule (ETH) in Zurich, where he stayed until his retirement.

Luigi was internationally known for his pioneering studies of the coordination chemistry of phosphorus and arsenic ligands, which produced the first example of a trans-ligated bidentate ligand of any type. He also produced numerous papers on metal-olefin complexes and coordination compounds of cyanocarbons. Along with his long-time research associate, Dr. Paul Pregosin, he produced much of the seminal work utilizing phosphorus-31 NMR as a probe for the elucidation of the geometric and electronic structures of phosphine complexes.

On a more personal note, your Editor regarded him as the older brother that I never had. His friendship and wise counsel were invaluable to me, both professionally and personally. Although his stay with us was short, its impact will be long. The nom de plume coined for him by the irascible (late) Prof. Jim Moore - "Prof. Luigi Bananas" - will be, forever, etched in my memory.

Luigi is survived by his wife Josephine, son Thomas (an engineer working for Swiss Air), and daughter Mary (an M.D.). Happily, he lived long enough to witness Mary's marriage on 10/7/00.







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