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T. Alexander Pond

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T. Alexander Pond Distinguished educator and physicist T. Alexander Pond, a visionary leader who led a distinguished, varied career of service to several American universities, died peacefully at his home in Arlington, VT on August 29th. He was 85.Dr. Pond was instrumental in the creation of what is now Stony Brook University in New York. He was chairman of its Department of Physics from his arrival in 1962 until 1968.His authorship of the proposal which resulted in the Einstein Chair in Physics to which 1957 Nobel Laureate C.N. Frank Yang was recruited secured a pivotal event in the Department's evolution. He then turned to the challenges facing the entire University community when named Acting Executive Vice President of the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1967, an appointment which became permanent a year later. He served as Acting President on three occasions before returning to the Department of Physics as Leading Professor in 1980. In 2001, Stony Brook University was granted admission into the Association of American Universities (AAU), the invitation-only organization of North America?s best research universities. After leaving Stony Brook in 1982, Dr. Pond joined Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, as its Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer, as well as University Professor of Physics. He served in these positions, and as Acting President for ten months (1989-90), until his retirement in 1997.Dr. Richard L. McCormick, President of Rutgers University, states Alec's achievements led directly to Rutgers' admission to the AAU in 1989. Alec will be remembered as a consummate builder of academic excellence across all disciplines, Dr. Kenneth Breslauer of Rutgers said. At Stony Brook, he built its physics department into a nationally recognized program. At Rutgers, he transformed an entire university into a world-class research institution. Dr. Pond broke his retirement briefly to serve as Acting Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He and his wife then split time between residences in New Jersey and Vermont, relocating to Vermont full-time in 2004. After his wife's passing, Alec's daughter and her family resided with him through his remaining years. Thomas Alexander Pond was born December 4, 1924 in Los Angeles, CA to Arthur Francis and Florence Alexander Pond. Upon his graduation from the public schools of San Marino, CA, he enrolled in Princeton University. Alec enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve as an Apprentice Seaman just after his 18th birthday. In active duty lasting from July, 1943 through September, 1946, he rose to the rank of Ensign, retiring aboard the USS Mount McKinley as the Senior Ensign Afloat. He remained in the Naval Reserve until 1953, retiring as a Lieutenant. Alec returned to Princeton to complete his undergraduate work, earning his AB, with High Honors, in 1947. He continued studies at Princeton under Dr. Robert Dicke, earning his AM (1949) and PhD (1953), both in Physics. He then spent the next eleven years as a teacher, first at Princeton, then at Washington University of St. Louis. Alec was also member and/or director of over two dozen societies and boards throughout his career. Alec was predeceased by his wife of forty-eight years, the former Barbara Eileen Newman, a dedicated supporter of graduate student communities at her husband's universities, and by his brother. He is survived by two children, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. He is also recalled with love by three nephews, a niece,and an extended family of students and colleagues around the world. FUNERAL NOTICE: A celebration of life will be held at 2:00pm on Saturday, September 25, 2010 at the Wilburton Inn, 257 Wilburton Drive, Manchester, Vermont. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Alec's memory to the Barbara N. Pond Memorial Fund in the Stony Brook Foundation, and the Department of Physics and Astronomy Chairman's Fund at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. To send the family personal email condolences, please visit www.sheafuneralhomes.com. The family has entrusted arrangements to HANSON-WALBRIDGE ARLINGTON CHAPEL, Historic Route 7A, Arlington, VT. An unabridged version of this remembrance is online at http://wardpond.net.

Published in Bennington Banner on Sept. 11, 2010
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