Mr. Homecoming 2011 Dale Teeters

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chemistry chair humbled by honor

TeetersDale Teeters has spent virtually his entire career at The University of Tulsa – rising through the faculty ranks, shepherding bright students, and performing groundbreaking research in the emerging nanotechnology field. But ask him why he chose to dedicate such a significant portion of his life to TU, and he’ll tell you it wasn’t by design.

Teeters, chair of TU’s Department of Chemistry, received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in 1975 and his doctorate from the University of Oklahoma in 1981. He found a good job with Dow Chemical in Texas, but he missed academia. On a whim, he applied for an opening in the TU chemistry department. He said he was surprised when he was asked to come to Tulsa for an interview and shocked when he found out he got the job.

He accepted the post and has never regretted the decision. In his 28 years at TU, Teeters has instructed and mentored thousands of students. He also serves as director of the TU Institute for Nanotechnology and holds the world’s first nanobattery patent. In 2011, he was honored with the Oklahoma Chemist Award.

“TU allows you to be creative. TU supports its faculty and gives us the freedom to excel,” Teeters said, adding that right now is probably the most exciting time ever to be at TU. “It’s incredible to see the number of new buildings being added to campus, to see the number of programs increase. We have brilliant young faculty members coming on board, and the students seem to get better every year.”

While he doesn’t mind bragging about the university, he’s reluctant to step into the spotlight himself. Teeters said his wife, Susan, who is also a chemist, has provided him with tremendous support through the years. He also thanked his colleagues at TU with inspiring and encouraging him to succeed, and singled out TU chemistry Professor Bob Howard, who received the Oklahoma Chemist Award in 2000, as being a particularly valuable friend and resource. “Bob is an outstanding teacher. I’ve always tried to emulate him in the classroom,” Teeters said fondly. The feelings are mutual. “Dale is selfless in his support of colleagues in the department,” Howard said. “He has great accomplishments and leads by example yet has a humility that allows others to take credit. By doing so, Dale has built a culture of success.”

Teeters has more than 50 journal publications and seven patents, and has authored four book chapters. His external research funding totals $10 million from federal agencies and private corporations. He served as a board member of the Oklahoma Nanotechnology Initiative, was on the Steering Committee of the NSF Oklahoma NanoNet Center, and has organized the Five-State Undergraduate Nanotechnology Symposium.

Beyond his service to science, Teeters is one of the founding members of Leadership Oklahoma; and he has served on the board of directors for Leadership Tulsa, Leadership Sand Springs, the Tulsa County Historic Society, the Eastern Oklahoma Chapter of the March of Dimes, and Neighbors Along the Line.

Teeters said he is humbled by being named Mr. Homecoming: “This is definitely home to me. I try to be a good representative of TU, and there is no higher honor than to be recognized by people across this campus.”