Happy Birthday to Oberlin’s Favorite Chemist
Oberlin’s largest donor ever, Charles Martin Hall, was born 150 years ago, on December 6, 1863. An 1885 graduate of the college, where he studied chemistry, Hall earned a fortune after discovering an inexpensive method for isolating pure aluminum from its compound and going on to form the company now known as the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa). A generous benefactor of the college, he made several direct gifts, and his estate left more than $10 million for the college endowment. Hall’s generosity toward his alma mater “is largely responsible for creating the college we are so proud of,” says Bill Barlow, vice president for development and alumni affairs.