Robert Sproull

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Robert Lamb Sproull
7th President of the University of Rochester
In office
Preceded by W. Allen Wallis
Succeeded by G. Dennis O'Brien
Personal details
Born (1918-08-16)August 16, 1918
Lacon, Illinois
Died October 9, 2014(2014-10-09) (aged 96)
Pittsford, New York
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Mary Louise Knickerbocker
Children Robert F. Sproull
Nancy Highbarger
Parents John Steele Sproull
Chloe Velma Lamb
Alma mater Deep Springs College, Cornell University
Profession Administrator

Robert Lamb Sproull (August 16, 1918 – October 9, 2014)[1][2] was an American educator, physicist and US Department of Defense official.

Sproull was born in Lacon, Illinois. A graduate of Deep Springs College, Sproull studied English literature at Cornell University before taking a Ph.D. at the same university in physics. He began a promising and productive career as a physicist at Cornell and headed the Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics (LASSP) and the Materials Science Center. Sproull left Cornell to become director of ARPA where he was a strong advocate of cooperation among academia, government, and industry to meet US scientific needs for defense and competition with the Soviet Union.

After taking up an administrative post at Cornell, he became provost and vice president of the University of Rochester in 1968. While at Rochester, he also served on Cornell's Board of Trustees. In 1970, he became Rochester's President, and the trustees voted in 1974 to make him the university’s chief executive officer. He retired as president and became professor of physics at the university in 1985.[3] He served on the Board of the George C. Marshall Institute. He was Chairman of the Defense Science Board. He was a member of the Roundtable Council of the National Academy of Sciences.[4]

In 2005, the University of Rochester named its Center for High Intensity Laser Research in his honor.[3] In 2006, Sproull and his wife donated $1 million to create the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Fund to support the work of the Cornell Center for Materials Research (CCMR).[5] In 2006, Sproull was awarded the Telluride Tech Festival Award of Technology in Telluride, Colorado.

During his term as President of the University of Rochester, Dr. Sproull was known by the nickname "Particle Bob", a reference to his background in physics.



Government offices
Preceded by
Jack P. Ruina
Director of ARPA
1963 – 1965
Succeeded by
Charles M. Herzfeld
Preceded by
Frederick Seitz
Chairman of the Defense Science Board
1969 – 1970
Succeeded by
Gerald F. Tape
Academic offices
Preceded by
McCrea Mazlett
Chancellor of the University of Rochester
1968 – 1970
Succeeded by
W. Allen Wallis
Preceded by
W. Allen Wallis
President of the University of Rochester
1970 – 1984
Succeeded by
G. Dennis O'Brien