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Smith Couple Honored by Alma Mater

The late Kenneth Hellman, who taught chemistry at Smith for 37 years until his retirement in 1999, and his wife of 47 years, Nancy Hellman, who served as special assistant to the first director of the Picker Engineering Program, were recently honored by Drew University, from which they both received undergraduate degrees in 1956.

The Hellmans’ alma mater honored the couple with an Acheivement in the Sciences Award, given by the college’s Alumnae Association. They were recognized during the 2006 reunion in June.

“The Hellmans were known as a strong team by family, friends, and colleagues,” says the award citation. “In their lives they made significant contributions to women’s science education. They were among Drew classmates who were active in making the Class of 1956 Scholarship a great success. Their deaths have been a great loss to their families and to the Class of 1956.”

At Smith, Kenneth Hellman set an example for his students and colleagues of determination and civility, building a reputation as an outstanding teacher who encouraged women toward achievement. He chaired the college’s chemistry department on several occasions, and his research in biochemistry resulted in numerous influential publications. He was presented with Smith’s Honored Professor Award in the year of his retirement.

Meanwhile, Nancy Hellman forged her own distinction in education by founding the Women in Engineering program at the University of Massachusetts, which she directed for 18 years. She then became the consulting director of the Women In Technology International Invent Center, which served the Five Colleges, retiring from that post in 2002. In 1992, Nancy Hellman was awarded the Engineering Alumni Association’s Special Recognition Award from UMass, one of several education awards.

The Hellmans were married two years after their graduation from Drew. Nancy Hellman died in January 2005, and Kenneth died nine months later. They are survived by two sons and two grandchildren.

-Eric Weld

8/2/06
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