Events & Seminars > Named Lectures > Pratt Lecture

pratt

Pratt Lecture

Born October 1879 in King George County Virginia, John Lee Pratt rose from modest beginnings to one of the wealthiest persons in America. As a youth he worked in a Fredricksberg equipment store, and there became interested in Mechanics. This led him to attain a civil engineering degree from UVA in 1902. After graduation he worked as an engineer for Dupont then transferred to General Motors where he eventually rose to become vice-president (1922).
The legend is that Pratt, when working for GM, dropped off an engine that had failed to the engineering dept to have the crankcase oil analyzed. When Pratt, on a return visit, discovered that the engine was still on the loading dock, he approached Professor John Yoe, an Analytical Chemistry professor, who eventually analyzed the crankcase oil.
John Pratt and his wife were generous philanthropists. In April 1976 the University received funds designated in the will of Pratt to be used to “supplement salaries of professors in the Departments of Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Chemistry (but NOT engineering) …and to provide scholarships for graduate students.”

Date

Lecturer

Affiliation

1984

Professor W. Klemperer

Harvard University

1985

Professor Harry Gray

Caltech

1987

Professor Martin Karplus

Harvard University

1988

Professor Henry Schaefer, III

University of Georgia

1988

Professor Roald Hoffmann (1981 Nobel Prize)

Cornell University

1990

Professor Henry Taube (1983 Nobel Prize)

Stanford University

1990

Professor John Polanyi (1986 Nobel Prize)

University of Toronto

1992

Professor James Collman

Stanford University

1992

Professor John Ross

Stanford University

1994

Professor Richard Schrock

MIT

1999

Professor Peter Chen

ETH, Zurich

1999

Professor Michael Kasha

Florida State University

2004-2005

Professor Maurice Brookhart

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

2009-2010 Professor Wilson Ho University of California – Irvine