American Chemical Society (NYS) Selects Chemistry Professor Kevin Kolack as Winner of the Outstanding Two-Year College Teaching Award

Published: February 09, 2022

American Chemical Society (NYS) Selects Chemistry Professor Kevin Kolack as Winner of the Outstanding Two-Year College Teaching Award  

Dr. Kevin Kolack, a Professor of Chemistry at Queensborough for 10 years, has been recognized by the American Chemical Society (NYS) for his “dedication in training the next generation of chemistry professionals”. The virtual award ceremony took place on January 29. 

Over his 30+ years of teaching experience, Kolack says his goals have remained constant. “I want to inspire students to go beyond just learning what is needed to pass a test, but to ask themselves why they need to learn a subject like chemistry and develop a strategy to succeed in class based on that question,” said Kolack, who discovered his own passion for chemistry at twelve years of age with his first chemistry set. 

Kolack, a resident of Queens, grew up in rural Georgia. He was a straight “A” student through high school. He considered law or medical school but was indifferent to the first option and could not stand the sight of blood.  

He did, however, have a lot of drive and eclectic interests. Throughout graduate school at the University of Indiana he was a firefighter, ambulance driver, professional puppeteer, and competed at the Olympic level in small-bore rifle, all while flying to New York where he took acting classes.  

During what he calls a “reasonably” successful acting career, he auditioned for and was cast in the thriller Blue Ruin, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival the same year he started at Queensborough. 

“I played the bad guy,” laughed Kolack. 

Eventually, though, 'struggling to get on the Oscar stage' held less and less appeal and he fine-tuned his focus more on performing “stand-up chemistry” in the classroom. 

Prior to Queensborough, Kolack worked as an adjunct for 15 years at several colleges and universities, including The Cooper Union, St. Joseph’s College, Yeshiva University, and Hunter College. 

He said, “CUNY has an important mission, specifically community colleges, especially Queensborough. Here, faculty are more than teachers. We are here for students who battle time. We have their backs when they need support services, whether it’s counseling, the food pantry, or tutoring.” 

Kolack continued, “Becoming a discriminating educated person is not an easy task. I want to help students improve their ability to communicate their understanding to peers and others, and to encourage them to use their education as a springboard for furthering a critical understanding of the world.” 

The editor of more than 400 peer-reviewed publications, Dr. Kolack, who earned a B.S. in Chemistry at The University of Virginia and a Ph.D. at Indiana University, is the lead author of the 3rd-5th editions of "Introductory General Chemistry Experiments".  

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