The University of Arizona

McLean First-Generation College Fellows


Dr. Katharine McLean’s lifelong passion was teaching and mentoring young people, and over the span of her 35-year career at Phoenix College she touched the lives of thousands of students. She was particularly gratified to help first generation students succeed in college, and helped many students make the transition from the community college to the university. These endowed funds are intended to continue her legacy by supporting first generation college students, facilitating the transition from community college to university, and supporting those outstanding individuals that have a passion for teaching.

Dr. McLean graduated from Cornell University in 1948, where she learned calculus from future Nobel laureate Richard Feynman. She then studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, graduating with a PhD in 1951 at age 23. She started her professional career at Redstone Arsenal, working with many of the original rocket pioneers at the dawn of the space age.

In 1952, she and her husband Claude (also a chemist) moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where she raised three children while teaching Chemistry at Phoenix College.  Her passion for teaching was undimmed after 37 years of college level instruction, and she continued her calling by tutoring primary grade students in reading and comprehension following her retirement in 1995.

When not in the classroom, the trilingual Dr. McLean (English, Spanish, German) enjoyed traveling with her family throughout Mexico, and was particularly fond of visiting her many friends in our sister state of Sonora. She succumbed to complications of Parkinson’s disease in 2011. 

Past Recipients

  • Christopher Druta, Spring, 2017
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