David W. Chaney

Dean of Textiles 1967 – 1981
North Carolina State University

David W. Chaney, Dean of Textiles
Born December 19, 1915   Died July 4, 2004
Years of Service 1967 – 1981


David W. Chaney, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, was born to the late Newcomb and Elsie Webb Chaney. He was educated as a chemist at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1942. The title of his dissertation was: “Reactions of Substituted Ethers with Alkaline Reagents.” He entered the ranks of industrial research with American Viscose from 1942­1951, and while there developed nylon for parachute cords during WW II. He joined Chemstrand in Decatur, Alabama in 1951. Over the next sixteen years, he rose to the position of vice president and technical director of new products and basic research. Chemstrand was an associated company jointly owned by the American Viscose Corporation and the Monsanto Chemical Company to conduct research, development, manufacture and sale of synthetic fibers. (1, 2) He led the team that created the synthetic fiber, Acrilan, a polyacrylonitrile, widely used for sweaters and carpets in the 1950s and 1960s. His team also developed Astroturf, a polyamide fiber, designed at first as a playground cover for city parks, and then was widely used by colleges and professional teams to cover their playing fields. He was instrumental in bringing the Chemstrand Research Center to the brand new Research Triangle Park, North Carolina in 1960.

The interaction between the School of Textiles and Chemstrand was extensive in the 1960s. Several faculty members were recruited from Chemstrand. In 1964, Chaney contributed a short article about technical information to the student publication, Textile Forum. (3)

When Dean Malcolm Campbell approached retirement age, it was a foregone conclusion that research was the key word to be used in finding a new dean. New faculty members were now expected to have an earned Ph.D. to have a reasonable chance at appointment. The two internal candidates for the deanship were Dame S. Hamby on the technology side and Henry A. Rutherford, a chemist. Neither candidate possessed a Ph.D. The committee deadlocked on the internal candidates and pointed out the need for a Ph.D. ­ holding dean if ever the School of Textiles was to have “respect” as a research organization. In the end, the search committee asked the committee chairman, David W. Chaney, an outside figure from Chemstrand, whether he would accept theposition of dean. He accepted and became dean in July 1967. (2)

In November 1967, shortly afterward, the UNC administration in Chapel Hill approved the Ph.D. program in Fiber and Polymer Science. This was the first doctoral program at a school of textiles in the southeast and the first fiber and polymer science program in the country. It was not an easy sell for many “up the ladder” in the administration in Harrelson Hall. They felt there was not a “critical mass” of talent available on campus. The first Ph.D. – holding member of the faculty was David M. Cates. He was hired in 1955. Since that time six faculty members were hired who held the Ph.D. The original FPS faculty included six Ph.D.s from Textiles and three from other colleges. Chaney released a statement in December that said in part that the program was:

“… being instituted in recognition of the need for graduates with a high degree of scientific training in the man­ made fiber industry and for the growing demand for similar levels of training within the primary textile industry. Not only is technology in textiles destined to move at an accelerated pace, but that the industry is now more inclined to take advantage of technological changes, allowing for a larger choice in design and styling and a more sophisticated approach to product design.” (2)

David W. Chaney 1960, NCSU Archives

Dean Chaney hosting Celanese People at NCSU Faculty Club Chancellor
Caldwell is third from left, NCSU Archives

Chaney and Dry Spinning installation, School of Textiles News

With the addition of new faculty, research grew strongly under Chaney’s leadership. Programs in fiber extrusion, knitting, open end spinning, fiber modification, and study of cotton dust were initiated. Chaney felt that one way to attract students would be to create a summer research program for rising high school seniors. These bright young students performed nominal research that summer and were heavily recruited to enter the undergraduate program. Once aboard, they were invited to join real research programs and eventually many entered M.S. and Ph. D. programs. The first summer program was organized by Raymond Fornes and Richard Gilbert in 1975. (2)

In the late 1970s, both College of Textiles buildings were showing the signs of age. Equipment and infrastructure were not up to the needs for all the research underway. With the help of many people including Bill Klopman of Burlington Industries and Governor Jim Hunt, a program was initiated to renovate. The decade ended with the renovation plan under development. Chaney served during a crucial time for the School of Textiles. Budgets were tight for many of the years of his tenure but the light at the end of the tunnel was glowing. As he planned retirement in 1981, he wrote that much needed to be done. The faculty had demonstrated they were up to the challenge. A critical nucleus had been obtained and growth was inevitable. (2, 3) Dave was a great fan of the Wolfpack until his death. He also wrote a regular “column” for the School of Textiles News, a quarterly news publication of the School of Textiles from 1968­ – 1981.

Dean David W. Chaney
Portrait Hall, College of Textiles
Photo: Gary N. Mock

Dr. Chaney was an avid sailor, photographer and gardener, and especially enjoyed orchids. He was an active member of Christ Episcopal Church where he was a lay Eucharistic minister. He was active in his retirement years as a volunteer for the North Carolina Museum of Art and in his church work. He loved being at his cottage at Sunset Beach surrounded by his children and grandchildren.

David Chaney was a loving husband, brother, father, and grandfather. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Faith Barsalow Chaney and had a son, Stephen G. (Steve) and his wife Suzanne of Chapel Hill, N.C. After Faith passed away, he married Anne Perry. There were also stepchildren: Betsy Newton and her husband Jeff of Chapel Hill; John Stephenson and his wife Karen of Myrtle Beach, SC; Johnny McCann and his wife Julie of Raleigh; grandchildren, Marc, Justin, Ashley, Hunter, Evan and Sean.

His remains are inurned in the Christ Episcopal Memorial Garden in Raleigh.


Patents (using Google Patent Search):

  1. Chaney, David W., US Patent 2,583,415, “Lower Alkyl Esters of Fluorinated Propionic Acid and a Method of Making the Esters, Filed Jun 28, 1946, Issued Jan 22, 1952, Assigned to American Viscose Corporation, Wilmington, Delaware.
  2. Chaney, David W., US Patent 2,662,875, “ Terpolymers of Acrylonitrile and Allyl Amines, Filed Feb 20, 1952, Issued Dec 15, 1953, Assigned to The Chemstrand Corporation, Decatur, Alabama.
  3. Chaney and Howard M. Hoxie, US Patent 2,687,938, “Ternary Acrylonitrile Polymers,” Filed May 6, 1950, Issued August 31, 1954, Assigned to American Viscose Corporation, Wilmington, Delaware.
  4. Chaney, David W., US Patent 2,549,892,”Fluorinated Propionyl Halides and a Method of Making Them,” Filed June 28, 1946, Issued April 24, 1951, Assigned Filed, Issued, Assigned Chaney, David W., US Patent 2,537,030, “Polymerization Process,” Filed March 31, 1948, Issued January 9, 1951, Assigned to
  5. Chaney, David W., US Patent 2,537,031, “Acrylonitrile Copolymers and Method of Producing Them,” Filed September 25, 1948, Issued January 9, 1951, Assigned to American Viscose Corporation, Wilmington, Delaware.
  6. Chaney, David W., US Patent 2,688,012, “Interpolymers of Acrylonitrile,” Filed March 23, 1951, Issued August 31, 1954, Assigned to American Viscose Corporation, Wilmington, Delaware.
  7. Chaney, David W., US Patent 2,496,267, “Solution of Acrylonitrile Polymers,” Filed April 5, 1948, Issued February 7, 1950, Assigned to American Viscose Corporation, Wilmington, Delaware.
  8. Chaney, David W., US Patent 2,456,768, “Polyfluorinated Propionitriles,” Filed June 28, 1946, Issued December 21, 1948, Assigned to American Viscose Corporation, Wilmington, Delaware.
  9. Chaney, David W., US Patent 2,732,364, “Polymerization Method for Acrylonitrile­Vinylpyridine Copolymers,” Filed April 20, 1953, Issued January 24, 1956, Assigned to The Chemstrand Corporation, a corporation of Delaware.
  10. Chaney, David W. and Rodger L. Schaefer, US Patent 2,743,994, “Method of Producing Shaped Articles from Polymeric Materials,” Filed September 24, 1953, Issued May 1, 1956, Assigned to The Chemstrand Corporation, Decatur, Alabama, a corporation of Delaware.
  11. Chaney, David W. and Helen G. Sommar, US Patent 2,641,524, “Acrylonitrile­Vinyl Amine Interpolymers and method of Making,” Filed July 13,1949, Issued June 9, 1953, Assigned to American Viscose Corporation, Wilmington, Delaware, a corporation of Delaware.
  12. Chaney, David W., US Patent 2,439,505, “Polyfluorinated Acrylonitriles,” Filed June 28, 1946, Issued April 13, 1948, Assigned to American Viscose Corporation, Wilmington, Delaware, a corporation of Delaware.
  13. Chaney, David W., US Patent 2,443,024, “Ethers from Polyfluoro Acrylonitriles and Monohydric Alcohols,” Filed September 10, 1946, Issued June 8, 1948, Assigned to American Viscose Corporation, Wilmington, Delaware, a corporation of Delaware.
  14. Chaney, David W., US Patent 2,522,566, “Ethers Derived from Hexafluoro­Butyn­2, Issued September 19, 1950, Assigned to American Viscose Corporation, Wilmington, Delaware, a corporation of Delaware.
  15. Chaney, David W., US Patent 2,662,877, “Copolymers of Acrylonitrile and Allyl Amines,” Filed June 27, 1950, Issued December 15, 1953, Assigned to The Chemstrand Corporation, Decatur, Alabama, a corporation of Delaware.



  1. Chemical & Engineering News, 1957, 35 (14b), pp 24­25.
  2. Mock, Gary N., A Century of Progress: The Textile Program North Carolina State University 1899 – ­1999, North Carolina Textile Foundation, Raleigh, 2001.
  3. Chaney, D.W., “The Problem of Technical Information,” Textile Forum, June 1964, pages 39­ – 40.
  4. Chaney, David W., “A Word from the Dean”, School of Textiles News, April 1981, p2.
  5. Obituary, David Webb Chaney, Raleigh News and Observer, July 5, 2004.