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Southeast Missouri State University

Dr. Bruce Hathaway


If you hear singing coming from Dr. Bruce Hathaway’s organic chemistry class, don’t be alarmed.  It is just his students performing in the “Organic Chemistry Songfest.”  Having students compose and perform organic chemistry songs for extra credit is just one of the unique teaching methods Hathaway uses to help his students learn.  Hathaway is a professor who likes to use unconventional teaching styles as a means to interact with his students.

“I want to know if they understand what I am trying to teach,” Hathaway explained.  “I use visual aids and do demonstrations to emphasize and illustrate certain topics.” 

Hathaway’s own passion for chemistry started when his father was diagnosed with lung cancer.  After seeing the affects the medication had on his father, Hathaway decided to take a medicinal chemistry course in college, which then sparked a desire to pursue this area further. 

Hathaway received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Texas-Austin in 1976, going on to pursue a doctorate in medicinal chemistry from Purdue University in 1980.

Hathaway loved teaching because he enjoyed helping people learn.  He also knew that a large research university would not allow him much time for teaching. 

“When choosing a career, I knew I wanted to find a college or university where teaching was important, but where I would also have the time and resources available to do research,” Hathaway said. 

In 1982, and after two years of research in medicinal chemistry, Hathaway started his career at Southeast, and has been teaching here for 23 years.  He currently teaches organic chemistry, both lecture and lab, organic and biological chemistry for non-majors and the occasional freshman chemistry class.  Hathaway’s research involves the design and synthesis of potential pharmaceuticals, development of organic chemistry laboratories that promote critical thinking and development of new synthetic methods.

But Hathaway doesn’t spend all his time in a laboratory or classroom.  He likes to get out and enjoy life too.

“I learned early in my career here that I needed a life outside of school,” Hathaway said.

Whether it’s playing golf with fellow chemistry and science colleagues, catching up on his favorite college football and basketball games, or going to cheer his student athletes on the home field, Hathaway loves to be involved.  He enjoys traveling with his wife to countries like Brazil and Thailand to visit missionary friends, and hopes to, one day, travel to Europe.  Hathaway also works on a variety of activities with his local church, such as teaching Sunday school and helping out with its high school youth group. 

“A number of people in society seem to think that you can’t be a good Christian and a good scientist,” Hathaway said.  “So I try to show people that the two are compatible.”

Hathaway has discovered a good balance between life and career, and advises his students to do the same.

“Life is more than school or a career, and it is not just about you,” Hathaway said.  “Life is meant to be lived in a relationship with others, for their good, and for the good of society.”