Don Alger

For nearly 40 years, Don Alger’s institutional service, approach to applied learning, and humor impacted those he influenced as a professor, campus leader, mentor, and friend.

He joined the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 1968, which he chaired from 2004-2007. His intense interest in the stories of the people who built the department and his dedication to capturing the scientific contributions of CSU, Chico’s students and faculty, culminated in his publication Chemistry at Chico State. Published after he retired in 2007, it preserves more than a century’s worth of student and faculty work in the department, from 1900 to 2014, and offers in retirement what Alger offered as a teacher and scholar—a lasting connection to CSU, Chico’s education. 

He served as a Congressional Science Counselor for the American Chemical Society (1974-1982) and integrated his experience as a toxic chemical consultant into his curriculum. His passion for introducing students to the concept of “green” chemistry and environment toxicology inspired those who learned and collaborated with him.

Greatly impacted by Alger’s teaching, a former student established the Don Alger Summer Research Award in his honor. The award funds undergraduate research opportunities, allowing students to gain hands-on research experience during the department’s Chemistry Research Institute. The award facilitates lasting student-faculty partnerships, which were a hallmark of Alger’s teaching.

He also was passionate about supporting CSU, Chico’s basketball programs, which led him to write another historical document, 100 Years of Chico State Basketball. He and his wife Barb attend every home game and travel long distances to road games, often hosting dinners for student-athletes.

Alger earned a PhD in organic chemistry from Washington State University in 1967, and a BA in Chemistry from Southern Oregon College in 1963.

Don Alger