Chemistry Laboratory Manager, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
In nearly twenty-five years of service, Andrew J. Small has played a key role in maintaining the highest standards of laboratory safety in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He wrote the book – literally – on laboratory safety. His Safety Procedures Manual for the department has seen twenty-two editions and is cited as a model of best practices. As co-author of the NIU Chemical Hygiene Plan, he helped produce a highly detailed, 124-page volume covering everything from chemical use, storage, and spills to proper handling and waste disposal. In terms of industry standards, notes Department Chair Dr. Jon Carnahan, Mr. Small’s safety program is “state of the art” and “above and beyond” national academic standards.
Mr. Small earned his bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Mt. Mercy College. He came to NIU in 1989 and has been a leader in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry ever since. His work touches all aspects of the department, including ordering, inventory, tracking and disposing of chemical stock; training on safety procedures; assisting with procurement of services and commodities; overseeing equipment and facility maintenance and repairs; and general oversight of the more than forty laboratory sections that the department offers each semester.
To understand the scope and impact of his work, one must understand the complexities of the laboratory manager’s role. One nominator explains: “The responsibilities of the laboratory manager are not static; they evolve with time. Andy has done an admirable job in keeping current with the ever-changing regulations on chemical acquisition, storage, and disposal.” Another notes, “The scope of the position is wide-ranging, with the faculty, staff, graduate students, and others all making both reasonable and unreasonable demands on Andy’s time….The teaching and stressing of proper laboratory safety is time-consuming, very frustrating, and without end since the department has new and safety-challenged undergraduate research students, URAP students, and graduate students each semester.” Throw into this mix the impact of aging infrastructure, planned (and unplanned) building maintenance, and unexpected equipment failures, and one can understand the many challenges Mr. Small juggles so proficiently every day.
Given this, it may surprise many to learn that he is a member of the University Council, the NIU Operating Staff Council (fifth term as president), Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars, the University Advisory Committee, and the Employee Advisory Committee to the State Merit Board. He has served on NIU’s last two Presidential Search Committees, its Athletic Board, and teaches UNIV101 for the university. In 1997, Mr. Small received the Outstanding Service Award in recognition of his exceptional commitment to NIU.
In DeKalb, Mr. Small has served as a First Ward Alderman and School Board President, has been a member of the Nehring Center and the Kishwaukee Kiwanis Club, and has been a judge at local and regional science fairs.
By maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and integrity in his service to the College and the community, Mr. Small has distinguished himself as an exemplary role model for us all.