Forrest Frank

Campus Mourns Dr. Forrest J. Frank

February 13, 2012 

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— Illinois Wesleyan University mourns the death of Emeritus Professor Dr. Forrest J. Frank, who died on Thursday, Feb. 9 in Bloomington.  Dr. Frank was a member of the University faculty for 34 years.

“I am sorry to report the passing of our colleague Forrest Frank, associate professor of chemistry until his retirement in 1999,” said President Richard F. Wilson. “Even then, after 34 years of teaching, Dr. Frank continued to teach part-time for another five years. Dr. Frank was well known for his popular Chemistry and Crime forensic science course and was one of four IWU professors who wrote two textbooks for a new undergraduate chemistry curriculum in 1999. Our sincere sympathies go to Dottie and his family.”

A Chicago native, Dr. Frank studied chemistry at Grinnell College in Iowa, where he met his wife, Dorothy “Dottie” Swenson, in a freshman general chemistry course.

Following his undergraduate studies, Dr. Frank pursued a doctorate in chemistry from Purdue University in Indiana. Prior to joining the Illinois Wesleyan faculty in 1965, he was employed as a research chemist at Rayonier, Inc., of Whippany, N.J.

Dr. Frank began teaching an innovative course, “Crime and Chemistry,” at IWU in 1985. In developing the course, Dr. Frank worked with the Illinois State Police Laboratory in Morton, Ill. and other professional colleagues. The course provided non-science majors with an introduction to basic chemistry principles and techniques by studying scientific aspects of evidence.

Two of his four sabbaticals took him to England, where he worked at Scotland Yard, focusing on new fingerprint detection and reproduction methods. He was assigned to Scotland Yard’s Serious Crimes Unit, which was 10 years old at the time.

In 1995, Dr. Frank received the 1995 Professor of the Year award from Illinois Wesleyan’s Student Senate. That same year, Dr. Frank and three other Illinois Wesleyan chemistry faculty members were awarded a $140,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The funds went toward a two textbook approach to teaching chemistry. Comprehensive Chemistry blends the first and second years of college chemistry, replacing the traditional general and organic chemistry sequences. It became part of the IWU curriculum in the fall of 1997.

Dr. Frank was also a member of the American Chemical Society, where he participated in a national committee that prepared standardized inorganic chemistry exams for university students.   

Surviving are his wife, his daughter Sharon Frank Wichman of St. Cloud, Minn.; his sister, Karen Goldman of Gresham, Ore.; and three grandsons, Nathaniel Forrest, Brenden Merrick and Lionel Thorsten Wichman, all of St. Cloud, Minn.

Contact: Sherry Wallace, (309) 556-3181