Francis Preston Venable (1856 - 1934)

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Prince Edward Co., Va
Death: Died in Chapel Hill, NC, USA
Occupation: Prof
Managed by: Michael Gerst
Last Updated:

About Francis Preston Venable

Francis Preston Venable (1856-1934) was a chemist, educator, and president of the University of North Carolina (UNC). His father, Charles Scott Venable, was aide-de-camp to Gen. Robert E. Lee from 1862 to 1865 and professor of mathematics at the University of Virginia from 1865 to 1896.

In 1879, Venable earned a master's degree in chemistry from the University of Virginia. He was offered the chair in the chemistry department at UNC in 1880. A year later, he earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Gottingen, Germany, and was elected fellow of the Chemical Society of London.

In 1893, Venable occupied the first endowed chair at UNC, the Mary Ann Smith Professorship. In collaboration with undergraduate students William Rand Kenan, Jr, and Thomas Clarke and former student John Motley Morehead III, he identified calcium carbide, a discovery of great commercial importance that led to the development of acetylene and the founding of Union Carbide. In 1899, he was elected vice president of the chemistry section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Venable served as president of UNC from 1900 to 1914. He took a one year leave of absence due to illness in 1914, during which time Edward Kidder Graham served as acting president. In 1905, he was elected president of the American Chemical Society, and he served as president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Venable resigned as president of UNC in 1914, was appointed Kenan Professor in 1918, and retired from teaching in 1930.

Venable was married to Sallie Charlton Manning in 1884, with whom he had 5 children. He died in 1934 and was buried in the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery.

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Francis Venable's Timeline

1856
November 17, 1856
Prince Edward Co., Va
1884
November 3, 1884
Age 27
1885
October 19, 1885
Age 28
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States
1887
February 27, 1887
Age 30
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States
1891
September 3, 1891
Age 34
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States
September 3, 1891
Age 34
Chapel Hill, NC, United States
1903
October 28, 1903
Age 46
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States
1934
March 17, 1934
Age 77
Chapel Hill, NC, USA