University of Vermont

Elmer L. Gaden, Jr. 1924-2012 - Former UVM CEMS Dean

Elmer GadenDr. Elmer Gaden, Jr., a former Dean of the UVM College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, died on Saturday, March 10, 2012, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Hailed universally as "the father of biochemical engineering"  he  earned his BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering from Columbia University, and served on the faculty of Columbia University from 1949- 1974.  He served as Dean of the UVM College of Engineering, Mathematics and Business Administration from 1974 to1979.  In 1979 he returned to teach at the University of Virginia until his retirement in 1994.

“He is remembered most in his role as Dean for his genuine interest in faculty,” says Jack Lawlor, lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, who shared with Dean Gaden a mutual interest in military history, in particular, Civil War history.

“Dean Gaden advised a number of undergrads who wanted to do non-traditional engineering at UVM, which led him to create two new degree options: a BS in engineering management and a BS in engineering,” recalls Doug Fletcher, professor in the School of Engineering.

Gaden was founder of the Biotechnology and Bioengineering Journal, which he edited until 1983. Noteworthy among his many awards is the 2009 Fritz and Delores Russ Prize, one of engineering's highest honors, from the National Academy of Engineering and Ohio University for his “pioneering research which enabled the large-scale manufacture of antibiotics such as penicillin”.

Other awards included the Egleston Medal for Distinguished Engineering Achievement (Columbia), an honorary Ph.D. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the Mac Wade Award from the students of University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Columbia's Great Teacher Award. In 2007, Columbia established the "Gaden Lecture" which brings a distinguished lecturer annually to the university.

"Dr. Gaden had exceptional talent as an educator and researcher in the field of biochemical engineering," said Bernard "Chip" Cole, Interim Dean of the UVM College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences.  "His dedication to excellence in teaching benefited his many students, and his research on large-scale manufacture of antibiotics benefited all of us.  On behalf of UVM, we send our condolences to Dr. Gaden's family and friends."

A service celebrating his life will be held 2 p.m. Saturday, March 24, 2012, at Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church, Unitarian Universalist, in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you make a contribution to the Hospice of the Piedmont which gave great comfort and support to him and his family at the end.

Written notes of condolence may be mailed to:
Jenny Gaden
3400 Rodman Drive
Charlottesville VA 22901

To read Dr. Gaden’s obituary visit: