A Celebration of the Contributions of the Coates Family

After much planning and anticipation, members of the Department of Chemistry, the Department of Physics & Astronomy, the Cain Department of Chemical Engineering and the LSU Graduate School gathered with descendants of Dean Charles E. Coates (1886-1939) for a special celebration on Thursday, March 16th, 2017.

Family members in attendance included four grandchildren:  Charles H. Coates (and his wife Peggy), Judi Dorfi, Jane Spiller and Susan Spiller.  Two great-grandchildren were in attendance:  Anna Katherine Bardwell (and her husband Scott) and Elizabeth Spiller.  President Alexander welcomed everyone and thanked the family for their ongoing contributions and the legacy of Dean Coates.

The event was inspired by the donation of Coates’ restored plantation desk to the Department of Chemistry.  At 8 am, family members gathered with LSU administrators for a light breakfast and to see the desk in its new location, the current Chair’s Office in 232 Choppin Hall.  The official portrait of Dean Coates has been retrieved from the LSU Archives and now hangs on the office wall opposite his desk.

A nephew of Dean Coates, George Hunter Coates, was a student at LSU and lived with his aunt and uncle in Baton Rouge.  He graduated in 1918 and went on to found Coates Energy.  In gratitude to his uncle, George Coates established the Dr Charles E. Coates Memorial Fund that supports graduate student research and travel to this day.

A symposium was held in the Grand Salon of the French House from 9 am to 12 pm.  Dean Michelle Masse welcomed attendees while a slideshow of the Coates family and the history of Chemistry at LSU played in the background.  There were three shorts talks by graduate students - representing the three beneficiary departments – Ms Bijeta Prasai (Chemistry, McCarley Group), Dr Eva Caspary (Chemical Engineering, Wornat Group) and Mr Kundan Kadam (Physics & Astronomy, Clayton Group).  Dean Cynthia Peterson spoke briefly on “A Culture of Philanthropy for LSU.”  Associate Professor Donghui Zhang (Chemistry) was chosen to deliver the keynote address on her research in polypeptoids.

A lunch, organized and prepared by Department of Chemistry staff, was served in the Benjamin P. Boussert Conference Room on the first floor of the Chemistry and Materials Building.  During the lunch, two students from each beneficiary department presented posters.  Full details of the program, abstracts and biographies of presenters can be accessed here.



Michelle Masse holding a symposium at the French House

Dean of the Graduate School, Michelle Massé, welcomes 
everyone to the symposium in the Grand Salon of the French House 

Plantation Desk

The plantation desk that belonged to Charles Edward Coates


Photo credits: Vickie Tate Thornton 

Charles E. Coates Biography