Central State’s Little Known Black History Fact

Updated: 3/5/2014 1:05 PM CST BY TOM JOYNER FOUNDATION

Edwina M. Harris

Office of University Public Relations




May 4th Central State University celebrated its 175th Founder’s Day.  One of the alumni members inducted into the Alumni Achievement Hall of Fame posthumously was Renown Chemist, Dr. Dennis W. Weatherby, Class of 1982, who received a patent for  an  automatic dishwasher detergent composition;  the solution that serves as the basic formulas behind all of today’s “lemon-scented” cleaning products containing bleach.  The first product produced with this patent  is the automatic dish detergent known as Cascade.

About the Inductee 

Dr. Dennis W. Weatherby was born December 4, 1959 in Brighton, Alabama the son of Willie and Flossie Mae Weatherby. He was an inventor, scientist, university administrator, and proponent of minority college students’ success.

Dr. Weatherby attended Midfield High School and then attended Central State University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry in 1982. From there, he moved to the University of Dayton where he completed a master’s degree in chemical engineering in 1984. Soon after finishing his studies, Dr. Weatherby began working for Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, Ohio, as a process engineer.

Almost immediately he had a major breakthrough at the company: At the age of just 27 he was given a chance to lead a team to create a new consumer product, and the result of that effort was a lemon-scented, liquid dishwashing detergent that  would become an instant and long-term success.

With his team, Dr. Weatherby developed a solution that employed a category of dyes that could be used in products containing bleach and, at the same time, would give the soap a lemon-yellow color that would not stain dishes. Before his invention, pigments were used in such solutions that often stained dishes and dishwasher interiors. With fellow inventor Brian J. Roselle, he received U.S. patent No. 4,714,562, issued on Dec. 22, 1987, for his breakthrough “Automatic dishwasher detergent composition.” The solution serves as the basic formula behind all of today’s “lemon-scented” cleaning products containing bleach.

Dr. Weatherby…the Chemist

As a chemist, Weatherby will forever be associated with one of the United States’ most well-known household cleaning products, the automatic dishwasher detergent known as Cascade.

Following his stint with Proctor and Gamble, Dr. Weatherby briefly worked for the Whittaker Corporation, a division of Morton International. Then, in 1989, he began working for his alma mater, Central State University, as an academic advisor and recruiter in the Water Resources Center. According to school, which has historically catered to minority students, under Dr. Weatherby’s leadership, the program experienced a more than 400 percent growth in student enrollment with a better than 80 percent retention rate. In 1994 he became an assistant professor of water quality at CSU in its International Center for Water Resources Management.

In 1996, Dr. Weatherby moved on to the institution where he had completed his graduate studies, Auburn University, to become director of the school’s new minority engineering program. There he served as a role model and advisor for black and other young minority men and women and also chaired external programs such as an undergraduate science symposium for showcasing students’ research from six area colleges and universities. As the founding director of Auburn University‘s Minority Engineering Program, he made Auburn one of the top universities for graduating African Americans in the field of engineering. A Minority Engineering Program report stated that minority first-year freshman pre-engineering students involved in the program in 1998-99 had a mean grad-point average over their first three academic quarters of 2.70. Nearly 79 percent of the participants had GPAs equal to or better than the 2.20 required to begin taking engineering courses. By comparison, white first year freshman pre-engineering students had a mean GPA after three quarters of 2.56 and just below 70 percent had the required 2.20 GPA

In 2006, Dr. Weatherby became the associate provost for Student Success at Northern Kentucky University, which he served until his death in September 2007.

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