Harold I. Schiff

University Professor Emeritus Harold I. Schiff passed away March 31 while on vacation in Cuba. Details about a service will be announced as they become available.

An educator and scientist in the field of chemistry, Schiff began at York in 1964 and was named a member of York’s Founders Society in honour of his contributions to the early development of the University.

While at York, Schiff was Chair of the Department of Chemistry and director of the Natural Science Program in 1964; dean of the Faculty of Science 1965-1972; and director of the Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry 1985-1989.

Before arriving at York, Schiff made a significant impact on physical chemistry and achieved a prestigious international reputation. His contributions to the development of techniques to measure trace constituents of the upper atmosphere and to the interpretation of the physics and chemistry of the stratosphere are particularly important in view of the potentially serious adverse effects of pollution from supersonic aircraft.

Schiff is author of over 200 books, research papers, technical reports and chapters in scientific books. In addition, he co-edited Optical Methods in Atmospheric Chemistry 1992 and Measurement of Atmospheric Gases 1991. In 1978 he co-authored The Ozone War.

Schiff received several honours for his teaching, publications and research, such as the Nuffield Fellowship from Cambridge University 1959-1960; the Distinguished Author Award from the US Department of Communications 1966; Fisher Scientific Lecture Award from the Canadian Society for Chemistry 1995; and the Award of Excellence for contribution to the Advancement of Air Quality Research.

Of great value to the community and country, Schiff participated in many organizations and committees concerned with the environment. In 1986 he was instrumental in founding the Canadian Institute for Research in Atmospheric Chemistry. A pioneer in his field, he chaired the US National Academy of Sciences’ panel on the impact of stratospheric change, which led to the ban on the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as aerosol propellents in the United States.

Other organizations to which he played a major role include the Special Advisory Committee on the Environment, City of Toronto; Montreal Section of the Chemical Industry of Canada, as Chair 1953, and Chair of the Education Division 1962; Committee on Stratospheric Pollution to the Government of Canada; Chair of the US Academy of Science, Panel on Stratospheric Chemistry; and Canadian Association of University Teachers.