Oral History with Luther Brice, Interview 1, October 24, 2014
- Kennelly, Tamara (Interviewer, Person)
Permission to publish material from the Virginia Tech LGBTQ Oral History Collection must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.
Luther Kennedy Brice, Jr. was born and raised in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard, a master’s from Dartmouth, and a Ph.D. from Duke University. Brice began working at Virginia Tech as assistant professor of chemistry in 1954. He earned tenure two years later and became a full professor in 1966. He served as professor of chemistry and Acting Head of the Chemistry Department in 1966-67. He received both of Virginia Tech’s prestigious teaching awards. In 1961, he was awarded the University Wine Award that recognizes a history of university teaching excellence and involves automatic induction into the Academy of Teaching Excellence. In 1966, he was the first winner of the University Sporn Award for Teaching Introductory Subjects. He took early retirement in 1986 when he moved to Washington, D.C. and taught as an adjunct professor at American University. During his years at Virginia Tech, Brice taught 23,593 students in freshman chemistry, physical chemistry, and principles of chemistry. He was also known as “Merlin the Magician” when he donned the blue cape made for him by his students and presented his chemical magic show.
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In this first oral history, Brice discusses how one had to be underground about being gay during his student years and through much of his time as a professor at Virginia Tech. Until the 1970s being homosexual was not discussed. He comments on the difficulties faced by gay faculty and students. The interview was conducted by Tamara Kennelly on October 24, 2014 at Innovation Space on the Virginia Tech campus.
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