Chemical physicist Raphael D. Levine is Cornell professor-at-large

Continuing a tradition established in 1965, Cornell University's Program for Andrew D. White Professors- at-Large will bring four distinguished scholars to campus this semester for formal and informal exchanges with faculty and students.

Raphael D. Levine, the Max Born Professor of Natural Philosophy and chairman of the Fritz Haber Research Center for Molecular Dynamics at The Hebrew University, will be at Cornell from Feb. 1 through 10 for his third, and possibly final, visit. On Wednesday, Feb. 7, he will give a public lecture, "Cluster Impact Chemistry: A Novel Route to High- Energy Chemical Reactions," in Room 200 of Baker Laboratory at 4:40 p.m. He will give two other presentations on campus: "Recent Progress in Rydberg State Dynamics," on Feb. 6, and "Dynamics in Several Electronic States," on Feb. 8, both at 11:15 a.m. in Room 119 of Baker Laboratory. "Professor Levine is a pre-eminent chemical physicist who possesses an uncanny understanding of molecular dynamics, which he gladly shares with all who are interested in these fundamental problems," said Simon Bauer, Cornell chemistry professor emeritus and Levine's faculty host. "In the preparation of several seminal books and about 400 journal publications, he has stimulated the collaboration of scientists from many institutions in Europe, the United States and Asia."

Levine, a professor-at-large at Cornell since 1989, has lectured widely in the United States and abroad. He was a Ramsay Memorial Fellow from 1964 through 1966 and received the Annual Prize from the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science in 1968 (he became a fellow of the academy in 1987) and the Wolf Prize in chemistry in 1988. He earned his M.S. in chemistry at The Hebrew University in 1960, his Ph.D. in mathematics at Nottingham University in 1964 and his D.Phil. in mathematics at Oxford University in 1966. He has been a professor of theoretical chemistry at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem since 1969.

This semester's other visiting professors-at-large will be Anthony Seeger, curator of the Folkways Collection and director of Folkways Recordings at the Smithsonian Institution (March 5--12); Donald Kuspit, professor of art history at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and editor of several leading journals of art criticism (April 21--26); and John Rowlinson, head of the chemistry department and physical chemistry laboratory at Oxford University (April 27--May 4).

The Program for Andrew D. White Professors-at-Large is named after Cornell's first president, with whom the idea originated. White had expressed concern that the school's first faculty members, "remote from great cities and centers of thought and action, [might] lose connection with the world at large, save through books." He proposed a system of non- resident professors, chosen for their achievements in diverse disciplines and walks of life, who would visit the university periodically over extended periods. "The resident professors would be thrown into close relations at once with the special professors," White said. "Their views would be enlarged, their efforts stimulated, their whole life quickened." In 1965, in honor of Cornell's centennial, the faculty unanimously recommended and the board of trustees approved a plan "to revive the office of non-resident professor by appointing as Andrew D. White Professors-at-Large a group of individuals, from both America and abroad, who have achieved high international distinction in the various areas of science and scholarship as well as in the learned professions, public affairs, literature and the creative arts."

The concept was "characteristically Cornellian in its marriage of science and society," said Urie Bronfenbrenner, the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of human development and family studies and of psychology, and chair of the professors-at-large program. "[Professors-at-large] would be leaders in the public and private sector as well as artists and writers who had contributed to the well-being of their society -- from agricultural scientists to engineers to poets. The notion was interdisciplinary in scope -- to bring in people who would not just be specialists in their own fields but who were relating their knowledge to the world." Up to 20 professors-at-large are named at Cornell at any one time. They make periodic visits to campus over six-year terms and are considered full members of the Cornell faculty. Today their efforts go beyond White's vision, by enriching the lives not just of faculty but of students: in addition to giving public lectures, professors-at-large participate in office hours with undergraduate and graduate students, seminars and thesis consultations.

"The term 'at-large' reflects the interdisciplinary aspect," said Bronfenbrenner, a co-founder of the nation's Head Start program, "but it also suggests someone who knows no boundaries. They do very creative things: biologist Sir Richard Southwood set up a coffee hour for undergraduates that is still going on. Another, John Szarkowski [an eminent photographer and curator at the Museum of Modern Art], decided while he was here to collect old pictures of Cornell that he had found in various places and gave the university the collection. These are usually very imaginative people, and Cornell gives them the time and the place to be creative."

Directors of the professors-at-large program hold three-year appointments and are appointed by the university president. "They are members of the faculty who are known to have broad interests and who are caught up in the magic of the A.D. White program," said Bronfenbrenner, whose term as chair will end this year.

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