The Faculty History Project documents faculty members who have been associated with the University of Michigan since 1837. Key in this effort is to celebrate the intellectual life of the University. This Faculty History Website is intended as a component of the effort to document the extraordinary academic achievements of Michigan’s faculty in building and sustaining one of the world’s great universities. It provides access to a comprehensive database of information concerning the thousands of faculty members who have served the University of Michigan.
Find out more.

The Bentley Historical Library serves as the official archives for the University.


Kent M. Terwilliger
Regents' Proceedings 193

The Regents of the University acknowledge with profound sadness the death on February 23, 1989 of Kent Melville Terwilliger, professor of physics and associate chair for research and facilities in the Department of Physics.

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.

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.

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 1968-71 and chair of the high energy physics users group at Argonne National Laboratory from 1962-64 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 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. As we mourn the loss of this great scholar and teacher, our condolences go to his wife Doris and his sons Steven, Paul, Thomas, and John.