The Robert McMillen Chair in Chemistry

at Lawrence University

Robert M. Rosenberg

McMillen Professor of Chemistry from 1968 - 1991

The third holder of the McMillen Chair in Chemistry was Robert M. Rosenberg, who joined the Lawrence faculty in 1956 and continued here until 1991. He held the McMillen chair from the late 1960s to the time of his retirement.

Rosenberg, a physical biochemist with particular interest in the physical behavior of proteins, earned the B.S. in chemistry (1947) at Trinity College (Connecticut) and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry (1951) at Northwestern University. Following research positions at Catholic University and Harvard Medical School, he taught (1953-1956) at Wesleyan University before coming to Lawrence. He received an NSF Faculty Fellowship for the 1962-63 academic year, which he spent at Oxford University, and spent two sabbatical years (1975-76 and 1981-82) in the chemistry department at UW-Madison.

Shortly after arriving at Lawrence, Rosenberg collaborated with Professor J. Bruce Brackenridge of the Lawrence physics department on the development of a new combined chemistry and physic introductory course at the calculus level. This novel course was embodied in a coauthored text, The Principles of Physics and Chemistry, published by McGraw Hill in 1970. He also coauthored, with his graduate school mentor Irving Klotz, the third edition of Chemical Thermodynamics, which was published by W.A. Benjamin, Inc., in 1970. A few years later (1977) Oxford University Press published Rosenberg’s Principles of Physical Chemistry.

He served as the resident director of an ACM (Associated Colleges of the Midwest) “Science Semester” at Argonne National Laboratory (1967-68). This was repeated in 1988-89, by which time the program had been merged with a similar one supported by the GLCA (Great Lakes Colleges Association) and was located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. On both occasions, he combined the task of directing the fall semester student program with a year-long sabbatical research leave.

Rosenberg was an influential member of the Lawrence faculty and active in chemical education on a national level. He served, for example, as chair of the Visiting Scientists Committee of the ACS Division of Chemical Education in 1968-69. He created a two-week summer enrichment program at Lawrence for high school teachers of AP chemistry courses, and ran it for its first two years. He chaired the chemistry department on several occasions, and from 1968 through 1975 served as an Associate Dean of the college, with responsibilities centered in the natural and social sciences. He was a highly respected teacher and scholar, and was awarded Lawrence’s annual award for excellence in teaching in 1988. A large number of his former students attended and contributed to a symposium in his honor on the occasion of his retirement in the spring of 1991.

Since his retirement, he has been a visiting professor of chemistry at Northwestern, where he has taught physical chemistry, continued to revise the thermodynamics text (now in its 6th edition), and written on other topics. His article “Why is Ice Slippery” was published in the December 2005 issue of Physics Today.

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Revised DEC-2005