Henry Offen

Professor Emeritus


Dr. Offen came to this country from Germany as a teen with his family after WWII. Within 5 years he learned English and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in Chemistry from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. He received his PhD. in Physical Chemistry from UCLA under the direction of Dr. Bill McMillan. He was happy to be asked to apply to the Chemistry Department at UCSB as an Assistant Professor that summer which started his career at UCSB in 1963. He retired in 1994, but continued serving students and UCSB in various capacities.

During his more than 40 years at UCSB, in addition to attaining the rank of Professor of Chemistry, Henry served as Associate Dean of the Graduate Division, Acting Director for numerous departments, Director of the Marine Science Institute, Natural Land and Water Reserves System, which later became the Natural Reserve System, and retired as Professor Emeritus in the Department of Chemistry (1994). Following retirement, Henry was recalled as Interim Director of the Natural Reserve System (NRS). He was instrumental in helping to bring the Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve, Sierra Nevada Aquatic Reserve, Coal Oil Point Reserve, Carpinteria Salt Marsh, Santa Cruz Island Reserve, Kenneth S. Norris Rancho Marino Reserve, and Sedgwick Reserve into the UCSB Natural Reserve System of protected natural land. Henry was the author or co-author of over 80 research publications in physical chemistry, specifically high-pressure spectroscopy. He supervised ten PhD graduates and eight Master’s graduates. One of his last passions in the Chemistry department was as a volunteer, teaching Freshman Honors Seminars until he passed away in 2010.