UW News

December 8, 2005

Honors for professor’s distinguished career include endowed chemistry chair

News and Information

Nearly 300 people gathered in Bagley Hall Friday to honor B. Seymour Rabinovitch, a professor emeritus of chemistry on whose behalf family, friends and colleagues have spearheaded a $1 million endowment for a chair in chemistry named for him.

The Rabinovitch chair was launched Oct. 1, with private gifts augmented by the UW Matching Initiative. It is the sixth endowment on campus made on behalf of or by Rabinovitch and his family. The others include a fund for staff professional development in chemistry, an outstanding faculty award in chemistry, a common room in chemistry to foster collaboration and collegiality, a graduate fellowship in chemistry and a fund for the metals program in the School of Art.

Rabinovitch — often called “Rab” by his colleagues, friends and students — came to the UW as an assistant professor in 1948. At age 86 he remains active in the chemistry department, regarded as one of its most accomplished and respected members. His work has been instrumental in deciphering the primary processes that occur when molecules collide and rearrange, and his contributions to molecular dynamics now appear as standard material in physical chemistry textbooks. His honors include being named a Fellow of the Royal Society in London, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Guggenheim Visiting Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford, England.

In recent years he has undertaken silversmithing (thus his School of Art endowment) and has become known as a collector of antique silver slices and servers, about which he has written a book. His collection is on exhibit in the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Speakers at Friday’s symposium included two former UW colleagues, emeritus professors Dwight Tardy from the University of Iowa and Kenneth Maloney of Baton Rouge Community College, as well a graduate school classmate, Rudolph Marcus of the California Institute of Technology, winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.