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George Arfken endows scholar-in-residence

07/21/1998

OXFORD, Ohio -- A gift from a retired Miami University faculty member will fund a scholar-in-residence program for the physics department.

George B. Arfken, physics professor from 1952-83 and chair of the department from 1956-72, has endowed a fund in his name and that of his late wife, Carolyn.

"As a physicist, I'm excited at the prospect of nationally and internationally known physicists interacting with students and faculty," said President James Garland. "As president of the university, it's immensely gratifying to see the loyalty and pride of retired faculty and staff that this gift exemplifies."

"This can only strengthen our program," said Paul D. Scholten, chair of physics.

Distinguished physicists have been invited to campus in the past, but such visits typically have been brief. "This gift allows for weeklong visits, providing significantly greater opportunities for faculty and students to interact with the scholar," Scholten said.

Physicists with expertise in widely varying areas will be invited, beginning in the 1999-2000 academic year, according to Scholten.

During their campus stay the George and Carolyn Arfken Physics Scholars-In-Residence will:

  • Participate in one or more seminars with faculty and students,
  • Deliver a presentation to the university community and
  • Work with undergraduate and graduate students on research and related topics.

Arfken, whose specialty was theoretical physics, wrote a widely used college text "Mathematical Methods for Physicists" that was translated into several languages and released in 1966, 1970 and 1984. A fourth edition, completed with a co-author, came out in 1997.

He also co-authored the text, "University Physics," with colleagues David Griffing, Donald Kelly and Joseph Priest.

During his 30-year career at Miami, Arfken was a leader in the use of computers in physics education and in introducing non-science majors to physics.

He received a bachelor of engineering degree with highest honors from Yale University in 1943 and went on to earn a master's and doctorate in physics from Yale in 1948 and 1950.

Arfken and Carolyn Dines, a graduate of Westminster College of Pennsylvania, were married in 1949 and raised three children. She died Aug. 28, 1997.

Since her death, Arfken has established a scholarship in her name at her alma mater. Establishing the scholar-in-residence program in both their names is a tribute to the closeness the couple felt to members of the physics department and their families, according to Arfken.

It also recognizes her efforts on behalf of the department.

"Carolyn was sort of an unofficial social secretary for the department. She helped a great deal in keeping the department a happy department and in maintaining good communications," he says.

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