- National Academies (1934)
- American Association for the Advancement of Science
Herman Thompson Briscoe (1893-1960) was one of Indiana University’s most capable, talented, and valuable educators and administrators. Born November 6, 1893 in Shoals, Indiana, his long association with IU began in 1912 as a student. He received his B.A. in chemistry in 1917, his M.A. in 1923 and his Ph.D. in 1924. In between his undergraduate and graduate work, Briscoe enlisted in the U.S. Army as a private, transferring to the Hercules Powder Company as a research chemist until his discharge in 1919. Between 1919 and 1922, Briscoe taught at Stark’s Military Academy, as an Austin Teaching Fellow at Harvard University, and at Colby College. He served in various capacities within the Department of Chemistry as instructor in chemistry (1922- 1924), assistant professor (1924-1926), associate professor (1926-1928), professor (1928-1960), and from 1938-1941 he served as chairperson of the department. Throughout his career, Briscoe authored or coauthored 23 publications on conductivity, physical properties, and the reactions of organic and inorganic molecules, supervised the graduate studies of 25 students, and published several general chemistry textbooks. His books were Qualitative Chemical Analysis: Principles and methods (1931), General Chemistry for Colleges (1935), The Structure and properties of Matter (1935), and An Introduction to College Chemistry (1937). Briscoe was an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1934), and a fellow of the Indiana Academy of Science (1935), and was affiliated with the American Chemical Society, Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, Tau Kappa Alpha, Phi Lambda Upsilon, Alpha Chi Sigma, and Lambda Chi Alpha. Briscoe’s administrative positions began when he participated as secretary on the Self-Survey Committee appointed by President Wells in 1937. The report of this committee helped reorganize the university's administration. In 1939, President Wells created the Office of Student Guidance and named Briscoe as director of student guidance as a special administrative assistant to the president from 1939-1942, which he did simultaneously with his duties as chemistry department chairperson. As part of his counseling duties, Briscoe travelled to the regional campuses and served as a member of committees concerning students such as the Committee for Residence Halls and the Scholarships and Student Aid Committee. In 1940, Briscoe was appointed the first Dean of the Faculties, his title one year later changing to Vice President and Dean of the Faculties. In December 1942, Briscoe was called upon by Paul V. McNutt to serve with him on the War Manpower Commission, representing the institutions of higher education which hosted military training programs and had responsibility for postwar educational planning. By 1943, he was spending most of his time in Washington D.C., which prompted IU to appoint an acting Deans of the Faculties. In 1944, Briscoe was promoted to the Director of the War Manpower Training Bureau, a position he held until he retired in 1959. The Herman T. Briscoe Professorship in Chemistry at Indiana University was established in 1961 and the Herman T. Briscoe Quadrangle Dormitory was dedicated in 1966, both named in honor of the long-time IU administrator.