New portrait honors UTSA Professor Emeritus Budalur S. Thyagarajan

portrait dedication

Budalur S. Thyagarajan

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(Dec. 22, 2010)--Former UTSA students Blair Andera '98, Damon Wilkerson and Steven Vela commissioned a portrait of UTSA Professor Emeritus Budalur S. Thyagaragan to honor his lifetime commitment and passion for teaching science students. Thyagarajan is the founding director of the UTSA Division of Earth and Physical Sciences, which led to the development of the UTSA College of Sciences.

Thyagarajan's portrait was unveiled at an Oct. 20 event in his honor. UTSA President Ricardo Romo, Provost John Frederick, College of Sciences Dean George Perry, former Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Commissioner Kenneth Ashworth, painter Susan Farris and many of Thyagarajan's former students attended the celebration. Thyagarajan's family including son Karthik Thyagarajan and grandson Ocean Milan also were present.

"President Ricardo Romo best summarized Dr. Thyagarajan's extraordinary accomplishments and his impact on students in a letter he sent to me, which read: 'Dr. Thyagarajan's legacy will continue at UTSA for generations through the endowed scholarships that he has established. It is inspiring to me that he has not only shared his knowledge with students, but he has also encouraged their dreams through funding for scholarships,'" said Andera.

Thyagarajan made an impact on countless students during his career. He mentored undergraduates and graduates from England, Egypt, Greece, India, Japan and Korea, who now hold professional careers in medicine, science, business and education. With the words of his grandmother as inspiration ("Life is to give, not to take."), Thyagarajan's legacy continues through the Dr. Budalur S. Thyagarajan Endowed Scholarship Fund, which supports UTSA undergraduates pursuing chemistry, geology and physics degrees.

To honor Thyagarajan's service and dedication to teaching, many of his former UTSA students and family members contributed to his endowed scholarship fund. The gifts will help support future generations of science students. Thyagaragan also established and supports the Mrs. Parvathammal Endowed Scholarship Fund in honor of his mother. The fund supports female undergraduate geology majors.

An organic chemist by training, Thyagarajan earned his doctoral degree in 1956 from the University of Madras, India, where he served as an organic chemistry reader for eight years, following the completion of postdoctoral fellowships at Northwestern University and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

From 1965 to 1966, Thyagarajan served as a visiting professor at the University of Southern California (USC). In 1967, he presided over the First International Conference on the Chemistry of Dimethyl Sulfoxide in Los Angeles. Thereafter, he accepted faculty appointments at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho and the University of Hokkaido in Japan.

From 1974 to 2000, Thyagarajan served UTSA as founding director of the Division of Earth and Physical Sciences. While at UTSA, Thyagarajan recruited faculty and developed curricula in chemistry, geology and physics to complement the biological sciences program already in place. Simultaneously, he researched novel topics in sulfur chemistry. Additionally, he developed an efficient and cost-effective method to manufacture the explosive HMX, a high-energy propellant used exclusively by the military.

To learn more about the Dr. Budalur S. Thyagarajan Endowed Scholarship Fund or to make a gift, contact Kim Fischer in the UTSA College of Sciences at 210-458-7672.