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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

The Passing of Howard P. Isermann ’42

From the President's Desk

To: The Rensselaer Community
Re: The Passing of Howard P. Isermann ’42

It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Howard P. Isermann ’42 on August 6, 2017. Mr. Isermann was a longtime member of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees and a dedicated, generous alumnus.

After earning his degree in chemical engineering, Mr. Isermann joined Van Dyk & Co. There he developed the ultraviolet absorber that has become the most effective sunscreen in the world. In 1980, he founded Novarome Inc., manufacturer of fragrance compounds used in a wide variety of consumer products from soaps to perfumes.

Mr. Isermann joined the Rensselaer Board of Trustees in 1986 and was named an honorary trustee in 1998. He received the Rensselaer Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award in 1994, and in 2003 was inducted into the Rensselaer Alumni Hall of Fame.  He was a member of the Stephen Van Rensselaer Society and the Heritage Society of Patroons of Rensselaer.

Mr. Isermann’s commitment to chemical engineering at Rensselaer has been exceptional. He served as chairman of the Chemical Engineering Advisory Council and was a generous benefactor of fellowships and professorships. In 1989, the Institute renamed the department the Howard P. Isermann Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. Through the Howard P. Isermann ’42 Fellowship Fund, more than 200 graduate students have benefited from collaborative scientific research, empowering them to tackle the world’s greatest problems. Jonathan Dordick, vice president for research, is the Howard P. Isermann ’42 Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer.

In 2016, Rensselaer dedicated the auditorium in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies in honor of Mr. Isermann. The auditorium was named the Howard P. Isermann Auditorium to honor his remarkable accomplishments and generous philanthropy.

Mr. Isermann was a former director of the Fragrance Materials Association, the Cosmetic, Toiletry & Fragrance Association, and the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials. He was also a member of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists. The Howard Isermann Award is given to the best manuscript submitted during the year, on any aspect of cosmetic science related to sunscreen, at the annual meeting of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists. He was a past trustee of the Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, the United Way, Sarasota Memorial Foundation Health Care, and the New College Foundation, the fund-raising arm of the New College of the University of South Florida, and the Sarasota Opera.

Mr. Isermann is survived by his wife, Betty Isermann, son, Michael Isermann, and daughter, Joan Williams Hoover.

Services will be private at the request of the family, but we will hold a memorial service for Mr. Isermann on the Troy campus in the fall to recognize his remarkable life and his many contributions to Rensselaer.

Our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Isermann’s family and friends. Please join me in taking a moment to reflect on the contributions he made to our university and to our world. He will never be far from our thoughts.