75th Anniversary of the ACS DivCHED Examinations Institute

A Short History

ACS Exams began as a project of the Division of Chemical Education in September 1930. It was begun by substantially the same group of pioneers in chemical education that had started the Division in 1921 and the Journal of Chemical Education in 1923. The first chair of the Examinations Committee was Dr. Otto M. Smith of Oklahoma A & M College (now Oklahoma State University). The first ACS chemistry test (in general chemistry) was released in 1934. Until the beginning of World War II, a new general chemistry test was released each year. The qualitative analysis test series was begun in 1939, the organic test series in 1942; and the quantitative analysis test series in 1944. High school tests were added in 1957. During World War II, the committee produced both civilian and military forms of college-level chemistry tests for the US Armed Forces Institute. (The military forms were kept secret.)

After World War II, the program was expanded to include virtually every undergraduate course in chemistry. Dr. Smith retired as chairman of the Examinations Committee in 1946 and Dr. Theodore Ashford was appointed to chair the committee. Dr. Ashford held that post until ill health forced him to retire in 1986. Dr. Jeff Davis of the University of South Florida served as acting Director of the Institute through 1987. The examinations program had been housed at St. Louis University from 1950 until 1960, and at the University of South Florida from 1960 until 1987.

In 1987, Dr. Dwaine Eubanks was appointed Director and the Examinations Institute was moved to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. Lucy Pryde Eubanks participated extensively in the activities of the Examinations Institute and was appointed as the Associate Director. The Institute was moved to Clemson University in 1992.

In 2002, Dr. Thomas Holme was appointed Director and the Examinations Institute was moved once again, to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). In 2008, Dr. Holme and the Examinations Institute moved to Iowa State University. The Associate Director, Dr. Kristen Murphy, remained located at UWM.

In 2015, Dr. Kristen Murphy was appointed Director, and the Examinations Institute moved back to UWM.  Dr. Jeffrey Raker of the University of South Florida was appointed as the Associated Director.  The business operations of the Examinations Institute was moved to Berthoud, Colorado, in 2016 under the direction of the new Business Operations Manager, Julie Adams.

While it was initially called the Examinations Committee, in 1984 the name was changed to the Examinations Institute, which better reflected the scope of assessment activities carried out through the program. A Board of Trustees was appointed by the DivCHED Executive Committee to oversee the operation of the Examinations Institute. Member of the Board are appointed by the Executive Committee.

75th Anniversary Activities

In 2009, the 75th Anniversary was celebrated in a number of ways. At the spring National ACS Meeting in Salt Lake City, anniversary cake was served on the exhibition floor – an activity that was featured in the “meeting newspaper” the next day. At the fall National ACS Meeting, two special symposia were organized. The first looked at the history and the future of the Institute. The second paid tribute to long-time Director Dr. Dwaine Eubanks. Finally, all exam writing committee volunteers received special 75th Anniversary logo polo shirts that have been quite visible at conferences over the years.