Scholarship honoring late professor champions careers in chemistry

Published March 7, 2023

Fresh from Stanford University with a Ph.D. in chemistry, Dorothy “Dot” Goldish arrived at a large consumer goods corporation to interview for a job as a chemist. But when the managers saw her, they changed it to a home economics position. 

It was then when Dr. Dot Goldish decided to pursue a career in education, according to her daughter, Judith Goldish. 

The year was 1959 and there weren’t many female chemistry professors, but that didn’t stop her from applying for a job at Cal State Long Beach (then Long Beach State College). As one of the first two female professors of chemistry, she stayed at the university for 50 years, serving in a variety of roles, although her passion was teaching. 

“She loved being in the lab, but teaching the next generation was what mattered to her,” Judith Goldish said of her late mother. 

“She loved chemistry, and she loved her students."

Late professor Dot Goldish portrait
Dr. Dot Goldish was one of two female professors in the chemistry department when she was hired in 1959.

It was in that spirit that Margaret Merryfield, professor emerita of chemistry, established the Dr. Dot Goldish Endowed Scholarship for Cal State Long Beach chemistry students. The scholarship is expected to be active in the fall semester.

Goldish passed away in 2008.

Scholarships enable The Beach to attract and support the brightest and most accomplished students who can shape California’s future workforce. Investing in opportunities that make an indelible mark on the economic, educational and scientific evolution of our state is one of the priorities of the university’s No Barriers comprehensive fundraising campaign. 

“Scholarships like this can help encourage students to pursue careers in chemistry by providing them with the financial support they need to complete their education and gain valuable research experience,” said Dr. Lijuan Li, chair of the chemistry and biochemistry department

“Thus, it can help to ensure that the field of chemistry is accessible to all students who are interested in pursuing careers in this exciting and important field.” 

Leah Webb, a fourth-year chemistry student, said the Dot Goldish scholarship is a wonderful way to encourage other women in STEM. The scholarship is for both male and female students. 

“Scholarships for CNSM (College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics) students are very impactful,” Webb said. “Providing financial assistance to students can allow them more time to fully immerse themselves in a research lab. 

 “In doing so, students can gain valuable lab skills that can be used in their future careers.” 

 This is what Goldish would want, Merryfield said. 

Merryfield said the scholarship stipulates that the recipient needs to have shown leadership skills, either within the community or university in some capacity, reflecting the values that Goldish possessed. Goldish, who was honored as a CSULB Golden Faculty in 2018, not only was involved in various aspects of CSULB, but within the Long Beach Jewish community and her family life. 

Goldish taught organic chemistry for 30 years, but when the French and Italian department needed an interim chair, Goldish volunteered. She also served three years as chair of the Academic Senate, associate dean of the liberal arts and sciences college and acting associate dean of the College of Business. Overall, she spent 50 years at The Beach. 

“Even after she retired, she worked as a special assistant in the provost’s office and then the president’s office, doing problem-solving for students,” Merryfield said. 

Merryfield’s memories of Goldish go beyond the classroom walls. Merryfield said the professor took her “under her wing” on her first day at The Beach. She turned out to be not only a mentor but a longtime friend. 

“I remember at my interview, she came up to introduce herself because she realized the room was full of mostly men and at the time, she was the only woman on the faculty,” Merryfield said. “She wanted to reassure me that there would be a positive climate here.” 

Merryfield, who taught at CSULB for 19 years before retiring and taking on her current role of faculty equity advocate, said Goldish set a standard for leadership and dedication, qualities that influenced her own career as a professor of biochemistry. 

The two remained close over the years, often meeting for lunch, discussing university issues and family matters. Merryfield said the scholarships are one way to keep Goldish’s memory alive. 

“It’s a way to carry on her legacy of education, of bringing education to the next generation, which is what she would have wanted,” Judith Goldish said.