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Kenneth Pitzer


Kenneth Sanborn Pitzer (1914–December 26, 1997) was an American theoretical chemist and educator.

He received his B.S. in 1935 from the California Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1937. Upon graduation, he was appointed to the faculty of Berkeley's Chemistry Department and was eventually elevated to professor. From 1951 to 1960, he served as dean of the College of Chemistry.

He was the third president of Rice University from 1961 until 1968 and sixth president of Stanford University from 1969 until 1971 when he returned to Berkeley. He retired in 1984, but continued research until his death.

He was Director of Research for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission from 1949 to 1951 and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

As a scientist he was known for his work on the thermodynamic properties of molecules, and during his long career he won many awards, mostly notably the National Medal of Science.

His father, Russell K. Pitzer, founded Pitzer College, one of the seven Claremont Colleges in California.

Kenneth Pitzer provided key testimony against Robert Oppenheimer in the public hearing that lead to his removal from the Atomic Energy Commission and revocation of his security clearance (Bird and Sherwin).


  • Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (New York: Knopf, 2005) ISBN 0-375-41202-6
Preceded by
Wallace Sterling
President of Stanford University
Succeeded by
Richard W. Lyman
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Kenneth_Pitzer". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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