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Physicist Will Leave A Vacuum


Dee Ann Rexroat '82

Professor Dick Jacob (left) receives emeritus status during commencement in June, accompanied by colleague Lyle Lichty as Dennis Moore, dean of the college, reads the citation.

Anyone who took his physics courses during the past 33 years knows an A from Dick Jacob was well-deserved. Now Jacob has entered retirement fully feted by the college, an honor also well-deserved

In his quiet way, Jacob contributed significantly to Cornell. He taught most of the courses in the physics curriculum, as well as courses in computer science and mathematics. In the mid-1970s Jacob became one in a group of faculty members including Don Bailey and Ed Hill who founded Cornell’s computer science program. At that time Jacob also became a part-time academic computing administrator. When there were computer problems, Jacob was the one to troubleshoot the system. Lightning strikes often meant a trip to campus for him.

Jacob is famous for his organization and impeccable records. His colleague, emeritus physics professor Harlan “Cot” Graber, calls Jacob Cornell’s Mr. Neatness, or “Felix Unger raised to the 4th power.” Both Jacob and Graber were active in Phi Beta Kappa and Jacob has agreed to serve as secretary into retirement.

That is typical of his devotion to Cornell.

“In later years Dick has taught here in a kind of phased retirement mode, which has meant that he reduced his time to only 100 percent,” remarked Dean of the College Dennis Moore at Jacob’s retirement dinner. “Among the faculty, Dick is famous as a person who has kept better committee records than the dean’s office, but to me Dick will always be a bright-eyed teacher of science.”


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