John A. Tanaka, 87, emeritus professor of chemistry and former Director of the Honors Programs at The University of Connecticut, died April 14, 2012.

John Tanaka gave over 45 years of service to the department and university and impacted thousands of students through chemistry, the honors program, the pre-dental society, and, occasionally, glass blowing.

John made significant impacts in teaching research and service. He and Steve Suib wrote a lab manual for the Inorganic Laboratory Class, a class John continued to instruct until 2010. He also conducted research for Laboratories of Westinghouse Electric Corp. on studies of electrical insulations. He became active in the Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society of the IEEE and the Insulated Conductors Committee of the Power Engineering Society. He also served as Vice President-Technical, Vice President- Administrative, and President of the DEIS/IEEE.

In 1971 John accepted a position as Director of the Honor’s program. In order to broaden the education of honors students, already at their credit limit, John introduced mini courses. An interdepartmental experimental one-credit course was also created to introduce freshman honors students to the services of the University. These courses have become the popular First Year Experience courses. In addition to course work, John began a mentoring program within the honors program where the older students worked with the freshman students.

Chemistry classes and the Honor’s program were not enough to quench the ambition of John Tanaka. He also acted as the Pre-dental advisor for the University. His advise and the composite pre-med or pre-dental letters he provided helped open the doors to dental school for hundreds of students.

Prof. John Tanaka left a trail of contributions to the University and the thousands of students that he worked with during the past 45 years. His positive attitude, inquisitive mind, and keen humor will be sorely missed.