Robert Sproull

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Robert Lamb Sproull
7th President of the University of Rochester
In office
Preceded byW. Allen Wallis
Succeeded byG. Dennis O'Brien
2nd CEO of the University of Rochester
In office
Preceded byW. Allen Wallis
Succeeded byJoel Seligman
Personal details
Born(1918-08-16)August 16, 1918
Lacon, Illinois
DiedOctober 9, 2014(2014-10-09) (aged 96)
Pittsford, New York
SpouseMary Louise Knickerbocker
ChildrenRobert F. Sproull
Nancy Highbarger
ParentJohn Steele Sproull
Chloe Velma Lamb
Alma materDeep Springs College, Cornell University

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 PhD 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.


  • Sproull, Robert (1963). Modern Physics. John Wiley & Sons Inc. pp. 630. ISBN 978-0-471-81845-8.


  1. ^ American Men & Women of Science: Q-S. 2003. ISBN 9780787665296.
  2. ^ "In Memoriam: Robert L. Sproull". Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  3. ^ a b New Laser Facility Dedicated to President Emeritus Robert L. Sproull Retrieved 2009-10-29.
  4. ^ "Dr. Robert L. Sproull". George Marshall Institute. Archived from the original on 2010-07-06. Retrieved 2009-10-29.
  5. ^ "Cornell Center for Materials Research to benefit from $1 million endowment gift". Aug 24, 2006. Retrieved 2009-10-29.

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by Director of ARPA
1963 – 1965
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chairman of the Defense Science Board
1969 – 1970
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by
McCrea Mazlett
Chancellor of the University of Rochester
1968 – 1970
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the University of Rochester
1970 – 1984
Succeeded by