Caught Doing Something Wonderful

Chuck and Martha Casey

Chuck and Martha Casey

Charles “Chuck” and Martha Casey take a creative approach to chemistry, academic planning and philanthropy.

Both hold doctoral degrees in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and moved to Madison when Chuck Casey accepted an assistant professorship in chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1968. Martha Casey was a research associate in chemistry and pharmacy and taught a laboratory course during her early career but soon found a niche in administration. She is assistant vice chancellor emerita for academic planning and analysis.

Martha Casey serves on the UW Foundation’s Women’s Philanthropy Council, which advocates deliberately discerning one’s individual priorities and using those interests as a guide to direct one’s philanthropy. The Caseys have established several awards and recently made a bequest to ensure continued funding of their projects for at least 20 years.

“What is really most difficult is to determine what is important to you,” Martha Casey said. “Our awards recognize people doing things that make a real difference at the University.”

The Martha Casey Award for Dedication to Excellence is given annually to an academic staff person who has been nominated by their supervisor or peers for their outstanding work. Rollie Weeden, assistant director of Student Financial Aid and Enrollment Management, is the 2010 recipient of the award. “It’s not often that those who work behind the scenes get recognized for that work by anyone outside their department,” Weeden said. “But this award is a wonderful exception to that.”

Chuck Casey is Homer B. Adkins emeritus professor and has been part of the chemistry community for more than 40 years. He served as president of American Chemical Society (ACS) in 2004, is a member of the inaugural class of ACS Fellows (2009), a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the National Academy of Science, a Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science and recipient of the ACS Award in Organometallic Chemistry.

The Charles P. and Martha L. Casey Chemistry Fund supports research excellence awards for students completing their doctoral research, recruitment of the best graduate students and, eventually, a special annual lecture in organometallic chemistry. Michael Nippe received a Casey Excellence Award in 2010. He is finishing his doctoral degree with the John Berry research group in inorganic chemistry. “The Casey award recognizes top research at a top 10 university,” Nippe said. “To me, personally, it was especially meaningful and prestigious because Chuck is one of the most outstanding inorganic chemists, and I have always been a fan of his work.”

Chuck Casey’s research group has been home to 54 doctoral students, 18 master’s students and 43 postdoctoral research associates. At last count, he has authored more than 300 publications.

“Chuck is a truly remarkable scientist and educator,” said former research group member Joseph O’Connor, professor of chemistry at the University of California, San Diego. “We all benefited enormously by participating in his rigorous and creative approach toward difficult research problems. Just as important to our education was the example that he and Martha set when it came to the human side of the UW-Madison experience. I will never forget their kindness and understanding when my wife suddenly passed away while I was a student in Chuck’s group. They opened up their hearts and their home by inviting me to stay with them for a time while I adjusted to that major life change. While it can be said that Chuck personifies chemistry, he and Martha also personify the best qualities of the human spirit.”