In 2021, California Institute of Technology (Caltech) renamed several buildings to honor those who made their mark on the leading science institution.
Among the honorees was Lee Browne, a former Caltech employee and lecturer, who worked for decades to make the schools’ student body more diverse and encouraged students from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue careers in science.
According to Shayna Chabner McKinney, Chief Communications Officer at Caltech, the institution decided to rename its central dining facility, formerly called “Harry Chandler Dining Hall,” to “Lee F. Browne Dining Hall” after “an intensive review and reflection on Caltech’s past and future and how the Institute’s commitment to cultivate a thriving, supportive, and inclusive community of scholars is reflected on campus.”
“Browne was initially recruited to Caltech by several faculty members from the Institute who had learned of his effectiveness in engaging Pasadena high school students in the sciences,” a statement from Caltech said.
“Browne taught chemistry at Muir High School from 1958 to 1964, and then at Blair High School, where he served as science department chairman from 1964 to 1969. He also served as a science consultant for the Pasadena Unified School District at large.”
Browne joined Caltech in 1970 as its director of secondary school relations and special student programs and retired in 1990 as a lecturer in education, emeritus.
During his 20 years at Caltech, he dedicated his “career to efforts that expanded students’ understanding and appreciation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).”
Specifically, he created local outreach programs to expand resources for STEM teaching and tutoring and encouraged students from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue careers in science.
“As an institute, we are grateful for his contributions,” said McKinney.
“We are committed to being a destination of choice for the most talented STEM scholars from around the world and our ability to do that effectively requires that all students are exposed to STEM early and often, that individuals with an interest in STEM have the ability to pursue their passions, and that they know and see Caltech as an option for continuing to develop their skills and interests.”
The dedication of the Lee F. Browne Dining Hall will be held on Thursday, November 17 at 4 p.m. outside the hall on Caltech’s Pasadena campus.
“The dedication ceremony is open to the public and we would encourage community involvement and participation,” McKinney said.
Browne’s family members and friends and those who have worked with him during his years at Caltech were invited to the event, according to McKinney.
Local high school students and teachers from Pasadena schools who participate in STEM outreach programs have also been invited.
The formal program includes remarks from Caltech president Thomas Rosenbaum, local outreach partners, and campus leaders.
Several outreach groups and graduate student leaders will be leading STEM demonstrations for those in attendance during the event.
Refreshments will be served at the event. No reservation is required, but those interested can sign up for an event reminder via email.