Christopher Spilling’s service philosophy is to improve the university environment for all members of the University of Missouri– St. Louis community.
“It is easy to sit back and complain about the challenges facing UMSL and higher education, but I believe in stepping up, becoming involved and trying to help address the issues through action,” said Spilling, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UMSL.
It’s because of this dedication that Spilling is being recognized for his service to the UMSL campus. He is the recipient of the 2015 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Campus Service and will be presented with a plaque and a $1,000 honorarium during the annual State of the University Address on Sept. 16 in the J.C. Penney Building.
Spilling has served as the chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry since 2004.
“Chris is an accomplished researcher and teacher and perceived as one of the most successful department chairs on the UMSL campus,” wrote Steve Graham, senior associate vice president for academic affairs at the University of Missouri System. “He has the unique ability to listen to various points of view, search for a compromise position that is best for the UM System and at the same time advocate for UMSL.”
In addition to his teaching and research duties, he continues to lend his skills, knowledge and insight to every campus committee he’s asked to serve on.
Spilling has contributed to hundreds of committees, from the Graduate Recruiting Committee to Faculty Senate and even the Student Lounge Oversight Committee.
“He participated in our strategic planning, our budget review committee, the review of course scheduling and on the organization of the veterans initiative as well as being on the hiring committee, to name a few,” Ron Yasbin, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences wrote in a nomination letter. “I once asked him if there was a committee upon which he hadn’t served. He wasn’t sure. Clearly, Chris Spilling has a fully documented record of distinguished service and he is well deserving of this honor.”
Spilling continues to be an active researcher, and through that he works heavily with the undergraduate research program.
“Throughout my career, I have never stopped the activity that first engaged me so directly – working with undergraduate research students,” he said. “I continue to enjoy mentoring them and allowing them to discover new chemistry in a safe environment that is very different from the classroom. I believe that service is an important component of faculty workload. I have tried to demonstrate this belief to my colleagues through my actions.”
Colleague Keith Stine said it’s hard to know when Spilling finds time to sleep, between serving on many committees, leading a department, teaching, working with students and continuing productive research.
“He has an impressive and sustained publication record, and has raised close to $5 million in research support during his career to date at UMSL,” wrote Stine, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UMSL. “He has led a number of efforts to raise funds which add or upgrade key shared instrumentation facilities within the department in ways that have benefited many faculty and contributed to their productivity and success.”