Dr. Benjamin Dias: Chemist Extraordinaire
Dr. Benjamin Dias: Prof. of Chemistry Extraordinaire
Dr. Benjamin Dias, was born and raised in a small district called Baillieston in North Western Clarendon, Jamaica, not very far from Spaldings and Christiana in the neighboring parish of Manchester. Ben is a past student of the Holmwood Practical Training Center and graduated from the Mico University College (MUC) in 1962. After graduation Ben taught general subjects and was sports master for six years at the Central Branch Elementary School in Kingston. He recalls that among his colleagues at the school were luminaries Madge Sinclair, a graduate of Shortwood Teachers' College who became a famous Hollywood film actress, and Vivian Crawford, an MUC classmate, former Executive Director, the Institute of Jamaica, and Pro-Chancellor of the University of Technology.
Very early in his teaching career, Ben realized that he would be of much greater value to students were he at least to acquire a first degree. Accordingly, he obtained study leave along with financial assistance from the Jamaica Ministry of Education to study at the Inter American University (IAU) in San German, Puerto Rico. His MUC credentials allowed him advanced standing on entering IAU. This ensured graduation with a B.Sc degree in Chemistry in three years. Ben was on his way to becoming Dr. Ben.
He subsequently applied to a number of American and Canadian universities to do graduate work in Chemistry. Wisely, Ben selected to attend Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan that offered the most attractive teaching assistantship. Understandably, Detroit's long, harsh winters instigated a transfer and relocation to Atlanta University (AU) in Atlanta, Georgia where the weather was much more to his liking. Ben completed his M.Sc and took a year off to teach science at Boggs Academy, a High School in Keysville, Georgia, before returning to AU to pursue research for his Doctoral degree. Ben successfully defended his dissertation for the Doctor of Arts degree and was recommended by his department Chair for a position as lecturer in Chemistry at the Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. During Ben's 24 years at the university he progressed from Lecturer through the positions of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Chemistry.
As Head of Department, Ben was instrumental in winning a US $25,000.00 three-year grant from the famous Pfizer Foundation/United Negro College Fund grants program, "The Art of Teaching Chemistry". Notably, this course incorporates mathematics, problem-solving skills and computer literacy to strengthen laboratory experience and enhance teaching strategies that place students at the center of the learning experience.
Ben retired in 2002 and remains a resident of Charlotte, North Carolina. Happily, Ben remains a most exemplary supporter of his alma mater, the MUC, as well as MUCFA to which Ben recently donated US $10,000.00, the single largest donation to the Foundation to date.