The Colgate Scene
July 2008

Faculty retirees
Two professors were recognized at commencement for achieving emeritus status upon their retirements.
[Photo by Susan Kahn]
Vic Mansfield, physics and astronomy

Vic Mansfield joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy in 1973, with a PhD in theoretical astrophysics from Cornell University and interests in cosmology, computational techniques, and the conjunction of science and spirituality. In his 35 years at Colgate, he has lectured in physics, astronomy, numerical analysis, and the Core curriculum. In 1982, working with Colgate faculty and students, Mansfield published a numerical "toolkit" for the programming language Pascal. Later, he developed a novel course on numerical methods in physics and a state-of-the-art computer classroom in which to teach it. For two decades, Mansfield's Core: Tibet course has been a favorite of students. His service appointments include Coordinator of Academic Technology from 1987 to 1993 and several terms as department chair. Mansfield's scholarship has followed his spiritual quest, leading to three published books and numerous articles on the relationship between science and spirituality. His most recent book, Tibetan Buddhism and Modern Science, is graced by an introduction by the Dalai Lama, and was presented to his Holiness here in April (see his reflection about the experience).

"Throughout Vic's academic career, his teaching has been distinguished by a broad and deep understanding of his scientific discipline, and a keen awareness of connections between scientific thought and spirituality," said Joe Amato, physics and astronomy department chair. "Whether teaching astrophysics, quantum mechanics, or electromagnetism, his students have been privileged to learn from someone who understands the subtleties of the subject, and who can convey those subtleties clearly and completely. Vic inspires his students with enthusiasm, energy, eloquence of expression, and high expectations for their work. Not only does he expose students to the rigors and subtleties of a subject, but he also shows students the beauty of the subject and its interconnection to other ways of thinking."

Editor's note: We regret to report that, just at press time, Vic Mansfield passed away. His obituary appears in Deaths.
[Photo by Barrett Brassfield]
John Novak, biology

John Novak earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Kent State University as well as a PhD from Washington State University. Coming to Colgate in 1972, he has taught introductory biology, entomology, animal behavior, and invertebrate and vertebrate zoology, and developed courses sought after by students in environmental studies and the core curriculum. His research interests, focused on insects and insect taxonomy, also include animal behavior as he investigates ecological systems, currently the predation of the locally abundant goldenrod gallfly. Novak helped edit and index the premier text on aquatic insects in North America. For Colgate, he was an organizer of a mountain geo-ecology summer experience in the late 1970s and taught tropical ecology during the January term in Jamaica. More recently he has directed the Wales Study Group and led extended-study groups to China. An avid photographer, Novak's vivid close-ups illustrate the objects of his research, and he has also published more than 100 images in magazines, calendars, and textbooks.

"John especially enjoys the ceremonial aspects of academic life, and served as a university marshal for many years," said Nancy Pruitt, biology professor. "This is just part of his overall sense of responsibility to his community, whatever that community might be. He served on the SOMAC ambulance volunteer response team for many years and has been an active member of his church. He has also been very active in the Brackett Foundation. Finally, I always admired the way John balanced his family life and his professional life."

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