Rachael Warecki Photo by Marc Campos
Portrait of Barbara and Michael Gibby in the Occidental College library

Barbara and Michael Gibby ’68 will donate $1 million to the Norris Chemistry Renovation Fund once Occidental has raised $700,000 toward the fund by June 30, 2024.

“With the passing of time, Norris is showing her age and modern pedagogy has stressed her limits,” says Michael Gibby, a former trustee and the founder, president, and chairman of Arion Systems, Inc. “Barbara and I are committed to ensuring future Oxy generations have the same opportunities we had by modernizing Norris Hall of Chemistry so it can continue to inspire and attract the quality of faculty and students that make this place so special.” 

Norris Hall, which opened in 1960, has not undergone significant renovations in more than 30 years. In that time, Occidental’s science program has become one of the most representative in the country: almost two-thirds of science majors are women, and 40 percent are students of color.

Moreover, Oxy science students have achieved exceptional success after graduation, including two Rhodes Scholarships, more than 50 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Fellowships, and more than 40 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships. According to a 2013 NSF report, Occidental is one of the country’s top producers of graduates who go on to receive doctorates in science and engineering. Alumni have gone on to work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the Food and Drug Administration, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

The highly anticipated renovation is a crucial step towards investing in scientific research and inquiry, a site of emphasis in the Occidental Promise. Oxy’s students graduate with research experience that is typically out of reach for undergraduates at large research institutions, and the renovation will ensure that faculty and students will continue to have the technology, space, and resources needed to teach, learn, and perform cutting-edge research.

“I was privileged to spend many of my waking hours, from matriculation to graduation, in the confines of Norris, learning and interacting with an outstanding faculty and talented contemporaries,” says Gibby, who worked closely on summer research projects with Frank P. DeHaan, the Emeritus Carl F. Braun Professor of Chemistry. “Norris was really a place where magic happened.”