Alum Is a State of Mind for Lou Schlesinger

Metallurgical Engineering


Alum Is a State of Mind for Lou Schlesinger
Alum status is a state of mind for UA supporter Lou Schlesinger, a mineral process manager who had to leave the University one course shy of a degree in metallurgical engineering.

Lou Schlesinger attended the University of Arizona from fall 1969 until spring 1974, majoring in metallurgical engineering. One class – metallurgical plant design – stood between him and a Bachelor of Science degree when he suddenly had to withdraw for personal reasons. He completed a similar mineral process plant design course at West Virginia University and collected his BS, later going on to earn a master’s degree in mineral processing engineering. While his diplomas are from WVU, he credits the UA with providing a solid educational foundation and many, many memorable moments from which his successes have sprung.

“I am a UA alum. I consider UA my undergrad in metallurgical engineering,” said Schlesinger, who lives in Spruce Pine, N.C., and manages mineral process research for Unimin Corp., a leading industrial mineral producer with 60 plants throughout North America. Unimin is part of the Sibelco Group, which has about 250 operations worldwide, on every continent except Antarctica.

Following is an Alumni Q&A, in which Lou Schlesinger shares undergrad memories and hopes for UA’s future.

How has your UA education benefited you?
I coasted through high school on ability, but at UA I learned how to organize my time and how to study. Not only did I receive a solid technical education from the outstanding engineering faculty, but also I gained an appreciation of the humanities and social sciences from the liberal arts faculty.

What are your favorite memories from your time at UA?
Attending UA in the early 1970s was a magical experience. I remember whitewashing the big A; walks with a date along the row of olive trees along 2nd Avenue; sunbathing on the mall; the free speech corner outside the student union; walking to football games with my fraternity brothers and dates (we wore shirt and tie!); field trips with the student chapter of the Society of Mining Engineers; basketball games in Bear Down Gym before McHale Center was built; the smell of orange blossoms in spring; concerts in Louie’s Lower Level; and baseball games at Sancet Field when it was called Wildcat Field and Frank Sancet was still coaching. My favorite memory, however, was organizing a UA Colloquium for Technology with another engineering student, Don Osborne, during my junior year. We brought some dynamic individuals to campus as speakers, including the great architect Buckminster Fuller, physicist and science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, the inventor Bill Lear, and Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek. I was a good ping pong player, but Arthur C. Clarke beat me in three straight games!

Tell us something about yourself that people might be surprised to learn.
I am writing a novel and learning that it is far more difficult than writing research papers or designing greenfield plants! Spoiler alert – one of the main characters is a 15-year old girl from Superior, Ariz.

What are your reasons for supporting UA financially?
I cannot come close to repaying the value of what I received from UA, but I want to give back what I am able. As a student I was fortunate to avail myself of many merit scholarships available from the department of metallurgical engineering, as well as internships with an area copper mine that the department helped coordinate. State tuition was less than $200 per semester when I attended, so my education and living expenses were almost entirely paid for. I know how expensive higher education has become from the experiences of my four children and want today’s UA students to have the same advantages and complete their studies debt-free as I did.

Tell us about your hobbies and pastimes.
I love outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, and swimming and indoor activities such as reading and writing. I was a Boy Scout leader for 17 years, coached Science Olympiad teams for our middle school and high school, and also coached youth sports. I like home improvement, too. I’ve built one house and extensively renovated two others.

What are your hopes for the future of UA?
I hope that UA continues its role as both a leading research university and a cultural beacon through promotion of the arts and humanities. I would like to see the continued cultivation of women for careers in science and engineering and affordable accessibility for a student body that represents the state of Arizona geographically, ethnically and economically. I come from an upper middle-class background, but many of my friends at UA were working-class kids who were the first in their families to attend college. I hope that same opportunity is available in the future.

Describe something remarkable or noteworthy you have experienced since graduating.
Career wise, I’ve had the privilege of helping design and start up two high purity quartz plants. I also have four U.S. patents for processes that produce high-performance functional fillers. Personally, I have four great children and grandchildren of whom I’m very proud.

Calling UA Engineering Alumni!

Where has life taken you since graduation? We’d like to know and so would your former engineering classmates.
Please email us and include the following information:
• Name and year you graduated
Major and degree (BS, MS, PhD, etc.)
Details of your activities
Don’t forget to include a digital picture of your family, latest project at work, or that boat or hot rod you just finished building in your garage. Vacation photos are great, too. We’ll publish your news and photos online and in the next print edition.
Please send your e-mail to


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