For the Love of Physics
“My husband was very dedicated to the Department of Physics, and he was particularly concerned about the quality of young professors,” says Madeleine Joullie, the widow of the late Physics Professor Emeritus Richard E. Prange, who died in 2008 at the age of 76. Prange began his career at Maryland in 1961 and played a vital role in the Department of Physics even after he retired in 2000.
Joullie, a professor of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, notes her husband had three loves: “physics, the University of Maryland and me. Maryland has always been a physics powerhouse, and Richard wanted to keep it strong. He knew that his gifts could help guarantee that Maryland continue as one of the most distinguished physics departments in the country.”
Prange understood the importance of mentoring young assistant professors when they began their research careers. “He knew young faculty want to teach at institutions where top researchers are teaching, and he realized that a well-known and recognized chairperson attracts strong young people in the field,” explains Joullie. Prange had a strong sense of how he could support the department and, Joullie says, “I have followed his wishes.”
Two endowed funds have been created to support specific activities in the Department of Physics. The Richard E. Prange Endowed Chair in Physics, a $1.5 million gift, supports a professor in the department, and the Richard E. Prange Endowed Fund for Physics, a $500,000 gift, provides support for a variety of activities that will positively impact the department, including the annual Prange Lecture and Prize as well as start-up money for a new faculty member or group of faculty members; an award for a young faculty member who shows exceptional promise and excellence; a contribution to teaching laboratory space in the Physical Sciences Complex now under construction; support for physics majors to enter research; and fellowships for highly talented undergraduate or graduate students.
In recognition of his excellence in research and teaching and his achievements in condensed matter theory, Sankar Das Sarma was selected as the initial holder of the Richard E. Prange Endowed Chair in Physics and is responsible for administering the Richard E. Prange Prize in Condensed Matter Theory and Related Areas.
As a fellow professor, Joullie never questioned her husband’s motivations and his love of the university. “In academia, we prepare for the younger generation to take over,” she says. “It is important that they have everything they need. Richard’s legacy will provide for that.”