Since 1973, a small group of freshmen have been getting a jump start on their freshman years by spending the summer at the University of Dallas navigating eight rigorous weeks of chemistry. The O'Hara Chemical Sciences Institute provides students an opportunity to earn eight chemistry credits before most of their classmates arrive on campus for the fall semester.
Admission to the program is always competitive and this year's group, with an average SAT of 1344, included two students who earned perfect scores on the math and verbal SAT sections respectively. All O'Hara students must be accepted by the university before they can apply for the program.
"The schedule is quite demanding with morning classes, labs three afternoons a week and exams every Friday," said Bill Hendrickson, professor of chemistry and director of the O'Hara Chemical Sciences Institute. "But we do plan activities for the weekends. This year, we're visiting the Dallas Zoo, the Perot Museum of Science and the Dallas Museum of Art, in addition to other places, and we're using the DART rail line to travel everywhere."
The program, which is made possible by the generosity of Mrs. John B. O'Hara, the daughter of Dr. Pepper developer Robert Lazenby, provides full tuition, room and board. Originally suggested by Jack Towne, emeritus professor of chemistry, the program is a huge boon to pre-med students' busy schedules, making it possible to go to Rome as a sophomore and start summer research earlier. This year's 20 freshmen, who are primarily science and math majors, began their studies on June 17.