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Kent M. Terwilliger
LSA Minutes


Kent Melville Terwilliger, Professor of Physics, died on February 23, 1989. Professor Terwilliger was born in San Jose, California in 1924. He received his B.S. degree from The California Institute of Technology in 1949 and his Ph.D. degree in Physics from The University of California at Berkeley in 1952. He joined The University of Michigan Department of Physics in the fall of 1952.

A pioneer in the field of experimental high energy physics, Professor Terwilliger was inventor of the "Terwilliger quadrupole" -- a magnet system used in colliding high energy particle beams; indeed, he was a co-author of the first article demonstrating the feasibility of colliding particle beams, in 1956. In recent years he became one of the world's leading experts in the field of accelerated polarized proton beams.

Kent served on a number of national high-energy physics committees and panels: he was a member of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel of the Atomic Energy Commission from 1968 to 1971 and chair of the high energy physics users group at Argonne National Laboratory from 1962 to 1964 and a Trustee of AUA, which manages Argonne National Laboratory. On these and other committees, Kent was much esteemed for his precise thought and astute insights. Kent was a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and was a member of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In the Department of Physics, Kent was highly valued as a teacher and collaborator and warmly regarded as a friend. A modest and self-effacing man, quiet and reserved, he had the rare ability to pinpoint the crux of a complex research problem. Always generous and supportive of the work of others, he filled his role as Associate Chair for Research and Facilities with distinction; the faculty felt very welcome to bring their problems and questions to him.

Kent was a physicist in mind and in spirit, with a deep love and respect for the physical world in all its complexity. He was daring as a scientist - a fact that his modesty as a man occasionally concealed. His rigorous scientific honesty and careful research provided a standard which inspired other scientists locally, nationally, and indeed, internationally.

Kent has left an enduring mark on his students and colleagues, both through his accomplishments as a physicist and his qualities as a person. He will be long remembered as an unusually dedicated physics researcher who displayed dignity and warmth in his efforts to study the universe, with no apparent interest in personal recognition. We mourn the loss of this great scholar and teacher.

Gary Krenz