Lyle C. Jenness was born at South Danbury, New Hampshire, November 1, 1900, the son of George B. and Melvina A. (Beane) Jenness. He received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of New Hampshire in 1922 and a Master’s in Mathematics from the University of Maine in 1925. He also completed additional graduate work at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1966, the University of New Hampshire awarded Jenness an honorary doctorate.
Jenness began his professional career at the University of Maine in 1923, when he assumed the position of Instructor of Mathematics. He then became an Instructor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and worked his way through each level of promotion until becoming a full Professor. Jenness was named Acting Head of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and Acting Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Department of Industrial Cooperation.
In 1948, Jenness assumed the title of Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering including Pulp and Paper Technology. In 1951, Jenness with John Lewis edited the two-volume University of Maine Lectures on Pulp and Paper Manufacture. During his tenure at the head of Chemical Engineering, Jenness played an instrumental role in the creation of the Pulp and Paper Foundation. He was the first director of the Summer Institute program in 1960, a position he held until his retirement from the university in 1966. The institute was developed to provide an opportunity for personnel in the paper industry engage in professional development that enabled them to learn about the modern technology of pulp and paper manufacture. Early on, the program included a computer technology portion stressing process control and modeling.
Following his retirement, Jenness held the role of Executive Secretary of the Foundation for 10 years. In the early 1970s, the University of Maine consolidated chemical engineering and pulp and paper instruction into a newly constructed building dedicated Jenness Hall.
Jenness was a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi, and Tau Beta Phi honor societies and the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. He was also a member of the American Chemical Society, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, American Society for Engineering Education, and the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry. Jenness’ numerous awards include the 1972 TAPPI Gold Medal in recognition of his many contributions to TAPPI and the paper industry.
Jenness died at an Orono nursing facility on May 4, 1986.
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Chemical engineering, Pulp science, Paper manufacturing