John S. Toll

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John S. Toll
25th President of Washington College
In office
Preceded byCharles H. Trout
Succeeded byBaird Tipson
1st Chancellor of the University System of Maryland
In office
Preceded byHimself (as President)
Succeeded byDonald N. Langenberg
2nd President of the University of Maryland System
In office
Preceded byWilson Homer Elkins
Succeeded byHimself (as Chancellor)
2nd President of Stony Brook University
In office
Preceded byJohn Francis Lee
Succeeded byJohn Marburger
Personal details
Born(1923-10-23)October 23, 1923
Denver, Colorado
DiedJuly 15, 2011(2011-07-15) (aged 87)
Bethesda, Maryland
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Maryland
ThesisThe dispersion relation for light and its application to problems involving electron pairs (1952)
Doctoral advisorJohn Archibald Wheeler

John Sampson Toll (October 25, 1923 – July 15, 2011) was an American physicist and educational administrator.[1]


Toll received his bachelor's degree in physics from Yale University in 1944, after which he served in the U.S. Navy in World War II. He finished his Ph.D. in physics at Princeton in 1952.[2]


He then moved to the University of Maryland, where he became chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy in 1953. During his tenure as chair, he was responsible for a major increase in size and quality of the department. The physics building at the University of Maryland is named for him.

In 1965 he left to become the second president of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, a position he held until 1978. While he was there, Stony Brook University, one of four SUNY centers created by then-governor Nelson Rockefeller (briefly Vice President of the United States under Gerald Ford), and, until recently, the only four allowed to call themselves "universities", grew to more than 17,000 students from a handful who started their academic careers before the campus was even finished, at the now-defunct State University of New York on Long Island (SUCOLI).

He then returned to the University of Maryland to become president of the original five campuses of the University of Maryland. Comparable to a chancellor position in other state university systems, at the time Toll oversaw the University of Maryland, College Park, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, University of Maryland University College, University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, and University of Maryland at Baltimore. When Governor William Donald Schaefer decided to merge most of the state's public universities into a single system, Toll was put in charge of the merger. He then became the first chancellor of the new University System of Maryland.

In 1995, at age 71, he became president of Washington College, a small, private liberal arts school in Chestertown, Maryland. There, he was credited with fixing the school's budget crisis and raising its national profile.

As a physicist, Toll was known for his work in dispersion theory and elementary particle physics. Between university jobs in the early 1990s, he was president of the Universities Research Association which oversaw the U.S. Superconducting Supercollider project until Congress defunded it.[3] In January 2004, he announced that he would leave Washington College and return to physics research at the University of Maryland.

Personal life[edit]

He married the former Deborah Taintor, and they had two daughters. Toll died on July 15, 2011, of respiratory failure at Fox Hill Assisted Living in Bethesda, Maryland.[4][5][6]


  1. ^ "In Memoriam: John Sampson Toll". Washington College News. 15 July 2011. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
  2. ^ Toll, John Sampson (1952). The dispersion relation for light and its application to problems involving electron pairs (Ph.D.). Princeton University. OCLC 932447591 – via ProQuest.
  3. ^ Hilts, Philip J. (July 1, 1993). "Energy Chief Says Accounting Problems Snag Supercollider Project". New York Times.
  4. ^ Daniel de Vise (July 15, 2011). "John Toll, educator who raised standards at University of Maryland, dies at 87". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ Bowie, Liz (July 15, 2011). "University of Maryland's founding chancellor John Toll dies". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
  6. ^ Paul Vitello (July 18, 2011). "John S. Toll Dies at 87; Led Stony Brook University". New York Times.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
John Francis Lee
President of Stony Brook University
1965 – 1978
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the University of Maryland System
1978 – 1988
Office abolished
New office Chancellor of the University System of Maryland
1988 – 1989
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the Washington College
1995 – 2004
Succeeded by