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Dr. Jackson, Campus Mourns Passing of Dr. Robert Resnick

To: The Rensselaer Community
From: Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., President
Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy
Professor of Engineering Sciences
Date: January 31, 2014
Re: The passing of Dr. Robert Resnick

It is with great sadness that I write to inform you of the passing of Dr. Robert Resnick, a world-renowned physicist, educator, mentor, and member of the Rensselaer Alumni Hall of Fame, on January 29.

Dr. Resnick was a dynamic and beloved member of the Rensselaer campus community for nearly four decades. He is widely known as the co-author of the famous 1960 textbook Physics, which revolutionized how the discipline of physics was taught at universities around the world. The book, now in its 10th edition with the updated title Fundamentals of Physics, continues to be used in undergraduate physics courses in colleges and universities across the globe. In total, he was the author or co-author of seven physics textbooks, which appear in 15 editions and more than 47 languages.

After earning his bachelor's degree and doctorate from Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Resnick served as a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh. He joined the Rensselaer faculty in 1956, received the Distinguished Faculty Award in 1971, and in 1974, was named the Edward P. Hamilton Distinguished Professor of Science Education. He served in this capacity until transitioning into the role of Professor Emeritus in 1993.

Students, faculty, and staff who shared their time on campus with Dr. Resnick remember his reputation as an expert limericist. There is a legend of a group of students challenging him to a limerick face-off, which he handily won. This is only one among a bounty of stories of how Dr. Resnick touched the lives of so many members of the Rensselaer family.

Dr. Resnick introduced the Rensselaer interdisciplinary science curriculum in 1973, and chaired the initiative for 15 years. On campus, the Robert Resnick Center for Physics Education was named in his honor. The Robert Resnick Lecture was established in 1994, and continues to be an impactful event.

In 1975, the American Association of Physics Teachers bestowed upon Dr. Resnick its highest honor, the Oersted Medal. He later served as president of the association, which in a citation said of him: "Few physicists have had greater or more direct influence on undergraduate physics students than has Robert Resnick."

Dr. Resnick was predeceased by his wife, Mildred, and is survived by his two daughters, Abby and Gina. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, and the rest of the Resnick family, at this time of personal loss and mourning.