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Faculty & Staff Focus, Honors & Awards

Friends, Colleagues Establish Endowment in Memory of LSU Alumnus John Caldwell

06/04/2012 10:57 AM

Friends and colleagues of LSU alumnus John Caldwell have contributed more than $20,000 to the LSU Foundation to establish the John D. Caldwell and Lion Copolymer Endowment for Graduate Studies. This endowment will support graduate student activities in polymer chemistry at LSU.


Caldwell received his bachelor’s degree from Northwestern State University and his master’s degree in chemistry from LSU. After enduring a lengthy battle with liver cancer, he passed away Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012. Caldwell spent 30 years as the chief process technical manager at the Royalene EPDM operation in the Lion Copolymer plant in Geismar.  He was fondly remembered as an “exceptional engineer.”


“I have never met an engineer as good as John. He was second to none,” said Gregory Nelson, Lion Copolymer CEO and president. “This industry has lost someone who was extremely talented, and we are happy to leave a legacy for his children and family through the LSU endowment.”


Caldwell’s family and friends gathered at Lion Copolymer on May 14 to memorialize the remarkable scientist and innovator.  Thankfully, Caldwell learned of the endowment prior to his passing and was astounded to know that the gift would benefit graduate students working toward the same degree that helped catapult him into a long and successful career in polymer chemistry.


“LSU prepared him well,” said Caldwell’s wife, Sabra.  “He was very proud of his LSU heritage.”  So proud in fact, two of his children, Christine and James, are LSU graduates and one, Meredith, is currently pursuing a bachelor’s of science in mathematics. He also hand-picked several LSU chemistry graduates to work at Copolymer.


Caldwell was an avid LSU football fan and was known for having LSU championship posters adorning the walls of his office.  He continued to attend the games until last year.  Not wanting to miss a moment of Tiger football, he sent his wife Sabra to provide play by plays and photos of game day excitement via mobile phone.


During the memorial, Jeffery McLain, the LSU Foundation’s vice president for development, presented a framed certificate to Caldwell’s wife and children acknowledging the establishment of the John D. Caldwell and Lion Copolymer Endowment.


“After extensive conversations with Lion Copolymer, it was evident that, outside of family, John’s passion was LSU,” said McLain.

“Then when you hear of his dedication to his profession and his outstanding accomplishments as a chemist and the advances he made to the polymer chemistry industry, it made sense to align this gift with the LSU chemistry program.”  The endowment will support student activities in the LSU Department of Chemistry’s polymer chemistry graduate program.


“We are very grateful to be chosen as the beneficiary for this endowment,” said Andrew Maverick, chair of the LSU Department of Chemistry.  “Polymer chemistry is a big driver for the Louisiana economy. This endowment will support some of the department’s best students.”


In addition to the endowment, Lion Copolymer has named a street in Caldwell’s honor.  Avenue C, a street that passes in front of the Royalene facility where Caldwell worked, will be renamed “John D. Caldwell Avenue.”


To make a donation to the John Caldwell Lion Copolymer Endowment for Graduate Studies, visit  — specify John D. Caldwell-Lion Copolymer Endowment — or write a check made payable to LSU Foundation, notation line John D. Caldwell-Lion Copolymer Endowment, and mail it to the LSU Foundation at 3838 West Lakeshore Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70808.


About Lion Copolymer
For more than 60 years Lion Copolymer has been a leader in synthetic rubber manufacturing with world-class production facilities in Geismar, La. and Baton Rouge.  During that time Lion Copolymer and its legacy companies have developed and emphasized a solid, trusting and dependable relationship with our customers. Lion Copolymer’s plant in Baton Rouge was one of the world’s first commercial producers of synthetic rubber more than 60 years ago. The company pioneered the continuous, cold-rubber emulsion SBR process and introduced co-coagulated black masterbatch products that are very unique in the industry.  That plant and the SBR business became part of Lion Copolymer in 2005.  In 2007 Lion Copolymer acquired the Royalene and Trilene EPDM  and Celogen Foaming Agent businesses from Chemtura (formerly Uniroyal Chemical).  The production facility for those products is located in Geismar.  In addition to the two manufacturing sites, Lion has a complete Technology Center in a separate facility in Baton Rouge.  The R&D and Compound Application Development Laboratories are located in that facility.

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