Hamline alumnus Robert Mikulak '64 has dedicated his career to stopping the proliferation of chemical weapons with the ultimate goal of eradicating them altogether. He is at the forefront of that work on a global stage in his role as the United States Permanent Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) located in The Hague, The Netherlands. The OPCW recently received one of the highest honors in the international community when it was awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.
Ambassador Mikulak was welcomed back to Hamline in the spring of 2013 to deliver the 14th Annual 3M/Ronald A. Mitsch Lecture in Chemistry. In his address, “Recent Developments in the Peaceful Use of Chemistry: Eliminating the Chemical Weapons Threat," Mikulak spoke about the obstacles and challenges he encounters in his work.
“There is a treaty that prohibits chemical weapons such as nerve gas and mustard gas. I actually helped negotiate the treaty that we are now trying to enforce. We want the elimination of chemical weapons around the world,” Ambassador Mikulak said.
Ambassador Mikulak received his undergraduate education at Hamline and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2001, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Hamline. He previously served in the State Department and the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in a series of increasingly responsible positions related to the prohibition of chemical and biological weapons. During the decade-long negotiation of the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention, he was the deputy U.S. negotiator and senior U.S. expert. In 1992, Ambassador Mikulak received the Hillard Roderick Prize in Arms Control from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The 3M/Ronald A. Mitsch Lectures in Chemistry are part of the 3M/Ronald A. Mitsch Endowed Fund in Chemistry, established in 1998 by the 3M Foundation in recognition and appreciation of Dr. Mitsch. Mitsch, a 1956 graduate of Hamline University’s College of Liberal Arts, began his career at 3M in 1960 as a research chemist and earned 19 patents. In 1998, he retired from 3M as vice chairman of the board and executive vice president of the industrial and consumer sector, corporate services. Mitsch is a Hamline University life trustee. The 3M/Ronald A. Mitsch Endowed Fund is intended to promote new connections and pioneering efforts between education and industry as an essential basis for the education of chemists who are prepared to meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century and beyond.