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Robert Millikan
1868 - 1953

Nobel Prize Winner in Physics, Notable Leader in Education

Robert Andrews Millikan was a Nobel Prize winning physicist at the University of Chicago and the dominant figure in the impressive development of the famed California Institute of Technology. ■ Millikan, of Scottish descent, was born in Morrison, Illinois, on March 22, 1868, and grew up in the farm country of Iowa. He was graduated from Oberlin College and helped his five brothers and sisters through college. ■ His graduate work in physics was accomplished at Columbia University, the University of Berlin, and the University of Goettingen in which is now Germany. On his return he became an assistant in physics at the University of Chicago in 1896, and full professor in 1910. ■ He taught for 25 years at the University of Chicago where he organized and wrote a series of textbooks accepted as standards in physics education. It was at Chicago that he perfected his famous oil-drop experiment to determine the value of an electronic charge. He also verified Einstein's photoelectricity and obtained a precise value for Planck's constant. For that work Millikan was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1923. In 1921 he became director of the Norman Bridge Laboratory of Physics at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Until he retired in 1945, Millikan was the dynamic head of Cal Tech. A highly successful recruiter of outstanding faculty and students, he built a nationwide reputation that brought some of the world's best talent to Cal Tech. ■ Millikan received many honors and served on the League of Nations Committee for Intellectual Cooperation. He was also chairman of the board of the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery of San Marino, California. He died in San Marino on December 19, 1953.
 

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546

2013