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Dumas, Lawrence B. (Lawrence Bernard), 1941-2008



  • Existence: 1941-2008


Lawrence Bernard Dumas was born on March 2, 1941, in Plainwell, Michigan, to Lawrence and Bertha Dumas. He was the second of five children, who grew up with their parents on a small onion farm. With a full tuition scholarship for the years 1959 through 1963, Dumas was able to study biochemistry at Michigan State University, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree with high honors. A master's degree in biochemistry from University of Wisconsin-Madison followed in 1965, and he received a PhD in biochemistry at University of Wisconsin in 1968. In June 1965 Dumas married Janet Sally Dennis. In January 1969 daughter Aimee was born, in March 1971 son Robert.

Before he came to Northwestern, Dumas was a Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation Graduate Fellow (1963 to 1964), a United States Public Health Service predoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin (March 1965 to December 1967), and a United States Public Health Service postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology (January 1968 to March 1970). On April 1, 1970, Dumas accepted appointment as assistant professor in the Biological Science Department at Northwestern. His main research focused on the definition of the mechanism of viral DNA replication.

During the academic year 1970/1971 Dumas served on the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee at the Biological Science Department, which revised the core curriculum for undergraduate majors. He also developed a new undergraduate honors program to attract to Northwestern outstanding high school students interested in biology. In the following years he intensified his research interests in molecular biology, virology, and DNA synthesis. From 1974 to 1979 Dumas received the United States Public Health Service Career Development Award.

Northwestern appointed Dumas associate professor in 1975. For his "clarity in a difficult subject area" and his "enthusiasm, which keeps the class lively" he was named outstanding teacher of Northwestern's College of Arts and Sciences in 1980. He was one of the founding members of the department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology in 1980. His research focused on the mechanism by which DNA chain initiation is catalyzed and controlled at chromosomal origins of replication. The molecular studies of chromosomal replication were funded by the American Cancer Society, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Public Health Service.

Dumas taught Physiology and Biochemistry courses (1969-1970), Microbial Physiology and Biochemical Genetics (1970-1971), Molecular Genetics (1971-1974), Bacterial and Phage Genetics (1971-1972), Molecular Biology (1972-1974, 1974-1982), Principles of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (1977-1979), Advanced Molecular Genetics (1979-1981), and Special Topics in Molecular Biology (1984-1985).

Graduate Students Evangelia Kranias, Pamela Derstine, Marvin Bayne, Sherry Goltz, James Bieker, Stephen LaBonne, John Hill, Larry Birkenmeyer, Harinder Singh and Mark Pausch were trained by Dumas, so were postdoctoral fellows Bern Hapke, Marlene Belfort and Bryan Peterson.

In 1985 he became chair of the department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology. As a key member of the Searle Leadership Committee at Northwestern he helped to establish 22 new faculty positions within eight years and obtained key grants from the Chicago Community Trust. Dumas made efforts to strengthen collaboration between the sciences in Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine, and McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

In December 1987, Dumas was named the twelfth dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern, succeeding Rudolph H. Weingartner, who resigned in August 1987 to become provost at the University of Pittsburgh. Among the accomplishments made during his administration was the elimination of a recurring budgetary deficit; campaigns to endow a new Center for the Humanities (now the Alice Berline Kaplan Center for the Humanities) and for building new facilities for the sciences; the Campaign for Great Teachers; the development of a faculty hiring plan; improved management of existing course offerings and enrollments; and the reorganization of selected graduate programs.

In 1987, Dumas received the John Boezi Award for Outstanding Molecular Biology Research from Michigan State University. In October 1995, Dumas assumed the position of University Provost, succeeding David H. Cohen. Following the path to "The Highest Order of Excellence," a written statement of fundamental goals, priorities and strategies for Northwestern, Dumas focused on four priorities: Invest in the faculty; intensify undergraduate learning; redesign graduate education and strengthen professional education; and build the infrastructure for teaching, learning and research in the twenty-first century. In a steering committee Dumas oversaw the implementation of these points.

Dumas was a member of the American Society of Biological Chemists, American Society for Microbiology and American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was a member of the medical advisory board of the Leukemia Research Foundation, and he served on the recombinant DNA safety committee at Abbott Laboratories in Chicago.

After Dumas stepped down from the position of Provost in October, 2007, Northwestern established the Lawrence B. Dumas Distinguished University Professorship as well as the Lawrence B. Dumas Domain Dinners. The idea was to bring together people across the University to socialize and to discuss their research.

Lawrence B. Dumas died on a brain tumor on November 17, 2008 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital Hospice.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Lawrence B. Dumas (1941-2008) Papers

Identifier: 11/3/6/3
Abstract Lawrence Dumas became assistant professor in the Biological Science Department at Northwestern University in 1970, was appointed associate professor in 1975, and full professor in 1980. Dumas also served as chair of the department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology, and as dean of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, before becoming University Provost. This collection of his papers fills 58 boxes and spans the years from 1953 it 2008. It contains biographical...
Dates: 1953 - 2008; Other: Majority of material found within 1969 - 1987; Other: Date acquired: 02/04/2008