Bart Houseman tells of 50 years at Goucher, plus one at Los Alamos

Written by Bob Heaton

To open his address at a recent Saturday Men's Social, Dr. Bart Houseman thanked the audience for having become such an important part of his and wife Dori's lives.

While celebrating his PhD in physical chemistry from Wayne State University in 1961, Bart received a call from Goucher College urging him to visit with an eye to joining the Chemistry Department. Although already lined up with other interviews, he and Dori visited Towson and decided that was where Bart should begin his teaching career. He ended it there, 50 years later—a record for Goucher service.

In addition to his regular chemistry classes, Bart originated a practical class, "Nuts and Bolts in Contemporary Society," showing how to fix things. It had 15 students in its first semester, then 35, and then 135, at which point additional faculty were required, a situation Goucher viewed with mixed emotions. By popular demand, Bart had to offer it one night a week as an adult course. The class gained national fame through Life (magazine), National Geographic, and many newspapers, including The New York Times.

In 1979, Bart took a year off to work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory where he developed improved control rods for reactors at nuclear power plants. He and a colleague there thought of a way to extract more oil from partially depleted wells by pumping in water to lift the remaining oil. However, the colleague wanted too much money from an oil company, so the fame of discovery and the revenue went elsewhere.

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