Aaron Lemonick

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1950, Aaron Lemonick, professor of physics and dean of the faculty, emeritus, began his doctoral studies at Princeton; he received his Ph.D. in 1954 for his research in atomic and nuclear physics performed under the guidance of Professor Donald Hamilton. Prior to entering college Lemonick had served for six years in the Air Force. He then accepted as an assistant professor appointment at Haverford College, where he remained for seven years, the last four of which he served as chair of the physics department. In 1961 he returned to Princeton as associate professor of physics and associate director of the Princeton-Pennsylvania Accelerator; he was promoted to Professor in 1964. Haverford and Princeton students were not the only ones to experience his spectacular teaching during this period. Lemonick’s lectures were filmed, a series was televised to wide audiences, and he participated for several summers in a program of Latin American Institutes for Physics Teachers under the Department of State’s cultural exchange programs in education.

In 1968 Lemonick’s career underwent a major change when he was chosen as dean of the Graduate School (following his thesis adviser Dean Hamilton by only a few years), and five years later when he became Dean of the Faculty. During his 21 years as one of the major figures in the University administration he always kept at the forefront of his thoughts and actions the essential missions of the University in teaching and scholarship, and he communicated his sense of these missions at every opportunity to students and faculty alike. He had no patience with those who put their own self interest or self promotion above these things. At the same time he was remarkably warm and humane and viewed the University in many ways as an extended family, never losing sight of the individual in a mass of statistics and generalities.

Rejoining the physics department in 1989, Professor Lemonick began where he left off, treating a new generation of undergraduates to his exuberant teaching as well as his sensitive concern for them as individuals. He has always inspired the many members of physics faculty who have worked together in the past few years to revitalize the introductory physics courses. His contributions to Princeton have been both broad and deep – their integral is huge. It is fitting, therefore, to remember Aaron with the words so many of us have heard so often over the years: “a hard act to follow!”