Keith Lorentzen


IUN Chancellor's Medallion (2016)
IUN Chancellor's Medallion
Location: Gary
Presenter: William J. Lowe


Becoming one of the Indiana University's Northwest campus earliest instructors in 1955, Dr. Keith Lorentzen has devoted nearly his entire adult life to the University. Just as he worked tirelessly to build a respected program in chemistry, his legacy continues to support the University and its students into his retirement years. For, although Lorentzen's retirement from IU Northwest began some 28 years ago, his support continues in the form of a scholarship he created in 2002, given annually to an outstanding chemistry student.

A native of Utah, Lorentzen's family included a university professor and a school teacher, so advanced education was always an expectation. He completed his B.A. degree in chemistry in 1942 at the beginning of WWII, so his plans to continue to graduate school had to be postponed. Returning home from war in 1947, he capitalized on his G.I Bill by earning his master's degree at the University of Utah.

Receipt of a research scholarship took Lorentzen and his wife, Frances, to Penn State University where he completed a Ph.D. They moved to Munster, Indiana in 1951 and he began working in the research labs of the Standard Oil refinery in Whiting. It was there that he and Frances raised their six children.

Lorentzen taught an evening Physics 101 class at one of the Northwest Indiana locations which offered classes toward completion of an IU degree. These were the years preceding the opening of the IU Northwest campus in Gary. When Standard Oil moved its research lab to Naperville, Illinois, Lorentzen made a decision to stay in Northwest Indiana.

He applied and was accepted for a full-time position at IU Northwest in the Chemistry department. Throughout the years, he traveled to and from the Bloomington campus, sitting in on various committees to help ensure that IU Northwest degrees were as academically sound as their counterparts at the main campus.

Because use of the G.I. Bill had afforded Lorentzen the opportunity to advance his education, Lorentzen gained a deep appreciation of the value of philanthropy. One of Lorentzen's many achievements was to help fund an undergraduate seminar for students who were pursuing a chemistry degree. The money he donated to the IU Foundation was used to invite notable guest speakers to the growing campus. And, through his continued philanthropy, the seminars continued each year.

Lorentzen was fully aware that although scholarship monies were provided at least in some form to each student, many students ended up dropping out of school long before degree completion. His dream was to start a scholarship that would be academically competitive, for a student who showed commitment to completing a degree. Throughout the years, many students who have been on the receiving end of this scholarship have confided that they would not have been able to attend college and complete a degree without this additional financial assistance.