“TALKING ABOUT FRIENDSHIP” by James Wei – October 2020

James Wei – few years ago

Dear Bill:

We first met seventy years ago, at the home of my Uncle Jack at 
Bronxville, New York.  It is incredible that we stayed in touch all 
these years through happy youth, prosperous adulthood, and quiet senior 
citizenship.  Confucius used to say that “It is rare to reach the age of 
seventy”.  But we managed to survive to ninety.  May the next ninety 
year be even more prosperous.

Jim Wei


Vita:  James Wei received his Bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1952, M.S. and Sc.D. in Chemical Engineering from MIT in 1954 and 1955 (with a minor in Fine Arts from Harvard).  He also has a degree in Advanced Management from Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration in 1969.  He began his career as a Research Chemical Engineer for Mobil Oil Research in 1955, and advanced to Manager of Long-Range Analysis by 1969.  He was Visiting Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Princeton University in 1962-1963, Visiting Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at California Institute of Technology in 1965, and Sherman M. Fairchild Distinguished Scholar in 1977.  From 1971-1977, he was the Allan P. Colburn Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Delaware.  He joined MIT in 1977 where he served as Department Head of Chemical Engineering until 1988, and was the Warren K. Lewis Professor from 1977-1991.  Between 1991 and 2002, he was Dean of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University.  Since 1991, he was also Pomeroy and Betty Perry Smith Professor of Chemical Engineering at Princeton University.  

            Dr. Wei has published more than 130 research papers on chemical kinetics, catalysis, reaction engineering, and cancer chemotherapy.  He has co-authored seven books, including “The Structure of Chemical Processing Industries” with McGraw-Hill in 1978, and “Product Engineering: Molecular Structure and Properties”, Oxford University Press in 2007.   Professor Wei has been editor of several book series and journals including:  Chemical Technology, member of the Executive Board, 1971-1979; Consulting Editor for McGraw-Hill Book Series of Chemical Engineering from 1964-1992; and Editor-in-Chief of Advances in Chemical Engineering, since 1982, responsible for Volumes 12-24.  He served as the president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 1988. He is currently a trustee of Smith College and the American University of Beirut.

            Among Dr. Wei’s awards are:  Award in Petroleum Chemistry from the American Chemical Society, 1966; Professional Progress Award from American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 1970; Member of the National Academy of Engineering, 1978; William H. Walker Award of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 1980; Member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1982; Member of Academia Sinica, 1982.  He was designated one of thirty “Eminent Chemical Engineers,” at the AIChE Diamond Jubilee Meeting, 1983; and Founders Award of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for contributions to the profession, 1990.   He was chosen as one of “One Hundred Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era”, at the Centennial Celebration of the AIChE in 2008


BILLY’S COMMENTS: Jim and I met when we were young college students enthusiastic to befriend others who share similar high aspirations. Uncle Jack’s home was friendly and relaxed. The elders truly encouraged us to strive and to connect. During the past 70+ years, we did not meet that often, but we kept up with each other’s good progress and shared miscellaneoous news of mutual interest. We indeed focused mainly on sustaining “Good Feelings” . We have a GOOD and BEAUTIFUL Friendship, indeed ! Thank you, Jim !