Jan. 13, 2012

The College of Sciences is saddened to announce the passing of Professor Emeritus David Emerson.

Emerson came to UNLV in 1981 to serve as Dean of the College of Science, Math, and Engineering, a position he held until 1988. He then served as Dean of the College of Sciences from 1988-1989. Prior to coming to UNLV, Emerson was a Dean at the University of Michigan—Dearborn. Emerson also was instrumental in the effort to create the engineering college at UNLV.

Known as a tireless advocate for the sciences, Emerson influenced many students as a chemistry professor from 1981-1998.Even after being granted emeritus status in 1998, he stayed involved on campus, volunteering, teaching, and conducting research.

The prestigious UNLV Emerson Medal is named in his honor and is awarded by the College of Sciences to individuals who have made distinguished, sustained, and lasting contributions and played a strategic role in the development of the sciences. The inaugural medal was awarded in 2008 to Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, chemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin.

Emerson was awarded the Donna Weistrop Career Achievement Award in 2009, which recognizes outstanding career contributions to the College of Sciences. In addition, the computer lab in the chemistry building is named in his honor.

A generous and thoughtful supporter of the college, Emerson was a member of the UNLV Foundation’s Heritage Circle; a society of donors who made planned gifts through the Foundation to benefit UNLV and its programs. One of his many contributions allowed the College of Sciences to provide a group of international graduate students in the department of mathematical sciences with a custom-designed English language class during the fall 2008 semester. The course was designed to help students improve their English comprehension and pronunciation.

He served on the UNLV Libraries Advisory Board beginning in 2003 and was the chair of the board in 2005 and 2006. Emerson was involved in the local chapter of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society and one of the world’s leading sources of authoritative scientific information.

Emerson passed away on Jan. 12. In lieu of flowers, his wife Shirley, and the family ask that contributions be made to the David W. Emerson Scholarship Fund at the UNLV Foundation. The family is thankful for everyone’s thoughts, but asks that their privacy be respected during this time of grief.