Over its 125 year history the chemistry department has expanded from one teacher (in 1870, at what was then St. Ignatius College) to 15 full time faculty members and over 50 graduate students. The department offered its first Ph.D. degree in 1948. In 1975 the department moved into its present home, Thomas U. Flanner Science Hall, a modern well equipped building which provides ample research space for faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows. In 1992 the entire basement was renovated into modern labs to accommodate the expansion of the department. These labs include research and instructional biochemistry facilities. The diverse research interests of the faculty open up a wide range of research experiences to students. Ongoing work is well balanced between Analytical, Biochemistry, Inorganic, Organic, and Physical Chemistry.
In addition there are adjunct faculty in the Biology and Physics Departments. Much of the current research transcends traditional boundaries to include fields such as bioorganic, bioinorganic, biophysical, and environmental chemistry. Weekly seminars and the annual Denkewalter Lecture (which brings the winner of either the American Chemical Society's Pure Chemistry or Eli Lilly awards to campus) provide an opportunity to learn about up to date advances from respected scientists from industry and academia.