University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Physics

Physics Department Receives Gift in Memory of Professor Robert Detenbeck

When Robert W. Detenbeck, emeritus professor of physics, died last summer he was celebrated as an accomplished researcher and one UVM’s most beloved teachers.

Now his widow, Jeanne Detenbeck, has extended that legacy, by giving a gift of $150,000 to the UVM Physics Department in his honor. The funds will be used to support graduate student education.

“Bob guided and mentored so many students,” recalled Jeanne Detenbeck. “He would have been very pleased to help these new students, too.”

“This generous gift comes at an opportune time,” said Dennis Clougherty, professor and chair of the UVM Physics Department. “We are in the process of launching a Ph.D. program in physics, and we are looking forward to growing this program in a newly constructed, state-of-the-art STEM complex in three years.”

Robert Detenbeck, 80, died on Aug. 8, 2013, in the Arbors, in Shelburne. He received his bachelor's degree in physics at the University of Rochester and his doctorate in physics at Princeton University in 1962. His research field was originally experimental nuclear physics done at the University of Maryland for eight years. Later, at the University of Vermont, his research was primarily in optical physics until his retirement in 1995.

“But his real love was teaching students,” Clougherty said, and for this he was recognized with UVM’s highest teaching honor in 1995, the George V. Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award. “He leaves a lasting legacy of the many students he has influenced and mentored over his career.” Detenbeck was also very active in the American Association of Physics Teachers, receiving their award for distinguished service in 1968.

“Jeanne Detenbeck's gift is a wonderful way to honor his many contributions to UVM,” Clougherty said, “I am very grateful to Jeanne for her generosity and her support of talented students in physics.” The first awards from this new fund will be made later this year.