Regents Approve Mitchell Institute For Physics At Texas A&M
COLLEGE STATION —
Approval has been given by the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents to establish a physics institute – the George P. and Cynthia W. Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics — that will affiliate Texas A&M with Stephen Hawking, widely considered the top scientist since Alfred Einstein.
The initial proposal was presented in July to regents, who approved the concept. The George P. and Cynthia W. Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics will be an organizational unit of the Department of Physics at Texas A&M and will begin an endowed workshop Feb. 24-March 21, featuring Hawking, whose theoretical work in physics has garnered worldwide acclaim.
Hawking, a distinguished professor at Cambridge University, has originated groundbreaking work ranging from quantum mechanics to the creation of the universe and the “Big Bang” theory.
“Our physics faculty in the area of strings and M-theory is already in the top 10 in the world for citations of their work,” explains Edward Fry, professor and head of physics.
“This institute will provide a major boost to their international recognition and promote the collaboration of some of the major scientists in the world. The results can be expected to provide insights into the cosmology of the universe and the ultimate unification of the fields of nature.”
Mitchell, a 1940 Texas A&M graduate, and his wife are underwriting the annual institute with $2.5 million to endow the institute and associated chairs. Additionally, they have given $200,000 toward first-year expenses.
$1 million will go to the creation of the Stephen Hawking Chair in Fundamental Physics which will be matched the university. At $2 million, the Hawking Chair is among the best endowed at Texas A&M.
Mitchell, former chairman and chief executive officer of Mitchell Energy and Development Co., is a distinguished graduate of Texas A&M’s Department of Petroleum Engineering and a longtime Texas A&M benefactor. He is credited with gifts ranging from 135 acres of land for Texas A&M’s Galveston campus on Pelican Island to his service as chair of the Target 2000 committee in the early 1980s.
He was instrumental in the development of The Woodlands and in the founding of the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), where he has worked with several notable Texas A&M researchers.
“For some time now, I’ve had an interest in fundamental physics, which was expressed through the Superconducting Super Collider program with HARC, the Universities Research Association Inc. and its 77 member universities, the U.S. Department of Energy and Texas A&M,” Mitchell says.
“I believe these contributions for the creation of the chair in fundamental physics and the Stephen Hawking Chair will add prestige to the Department of Physics and to Texas A&M University.”
A major component of the new institute will be an extended workshop lasting from one to two months each spring. It will bring six to 10 internationally renowned researchers in the field who will be specifically selected for the workshop program.
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Texas A&M University
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