Harrison Shull 1923-2003

Distinguished Scholar, Educator.


American Association for the Advancement of Science (1978)

American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1973)

National Academy of Sciences (1969)

Guggenheim Fellow (1954)


Harrison Shull was a distinguished scholar, educator, and administrator. He was born August 17, 1923 the youngest son of George Harrison Shull, inventor of hybrid corn and professor of genetics at Princeton University, and Mary Julia Nicholl Shull.

Harrison Shull graduated from Princeton with highest honors in 1943. From then until 1945, he served in the U.S. Navy at the Naval Research Laboratory. He earned his PhD in physical chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley in 1948. On a Rockefeller scholarship, Harrison worked with Robert Mulliken at the University of Chicago, where he began developing molecular orbital theory.

Dr. Shull joined the chemistry department at Iowa State University as an assistant professor and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to pursue research in Quantum Chemistry at Uppsala University in Sweden. While in Sweden he helped establish the Quantum Chemistry Summer School at Valadolen, Sweden and Sanibel, FL.

From 1955- 1979 he was a professor and chair of the chemistry department at Indiana University in Bloomington. He was the author of over 140 scientific papers and a college level Chemistry textbook. He became an innovator in Computer development and use, originating the model Quantum Chemistry Program Exchange and heading the University’s Research Computing Center. He also served as Dean of the Graduate School and Vice President of the University.

From 1979 to 1982, Harrison Shull served as Vice President and Provost of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In 1982, he was appointed Chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder. In 1985 he became Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey CA. Dr. Shull retired in 1995.

Dr. Shull was elected to the National Academy of Science, one of Science’s highest recognitions, in 1969. He was also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, and several other scientific and research associations and Phi Beta Kappa. He was an active International member of the Kungliga Vetenskaps Akademin and the Faraday Society.

Throughout his career and retirement he was active on a number of national boards and commissions, including the Federal Manpower Commission, the Institute for Defense Analysis, and the Naval Studies Board. He led a science policy initiative with the then Soviet Union and worked for the release of Professor Andrei Sakharoff. Dr. Shull was awarded a Congressional Medal and a Special Tribute from the Institute for Defense Analysis.

His ready handshake, good nature, and hearty laugh warmed the hearts of all who knew him. He was an excellent, creative, and patient teacher. In addition to science and mathematics, his interests and knowledge spanned wide areas including history, literature, languages, commerce, finance, and government. He was a creative, unbiased, and provocative thinker: a true scholar and gentleman. First and foremost, however, he was a beloved and devoted husband, father, and grandfather.

(c) 2021