Per-Olov Löwdin, 1916-2000
Per-Olov Löwdin, graduate research professor emeritus of chemistry and physics, died October 6 in Uppsala, Sweden. Löwdin was the founder of UF's Quantum Theory Project, comprised of an interdisciplinary group in chemistry and physics that conducts theory and computation regarding molecules and materials.
Löwdin came to UF in 1960. For almost 40 years he spent six months of the year teaching and working at UF and six months in Sweden. Through the mid-1980s, he ran two major research groups: UF's Quantum Theory Project and the Quantum Chemistry Group at Uppsala University. Throughout his career, he contributed many important theoretical developments in quantum chemistry and condensed matter physics.
Löwdin was known for his visionary work both as a scientist and as a dynamic organizational leader in the scientific community. During 1958-1987, Löwdin coordinated an annual summer school in quantum chemistry and solid-state physics, often held in remote mountain locations in Scandinavia. For many years, he and his UF colleagues organized corresponding winter institutes in the same subjects. These winter institutes evolved into the annual international Sanibel Symposia, named after the island in the Gulf of Mexico where the first seventeen meetings were held. These schools, institutes, and symposia have touched thousands of scientists from all over the world. In many respects, they have been instrumental in defining these scientific subjects and, perhaps as important, they have enabled and shaped international collaborations and friendships.
Bob Bryan, former provost and interim president, who first met Löwdin in 1961, reflects on the impact Löwdin had on UF and the scientific community. "During all the time that I knew him, I was always struck by his exuberant optimism; he believed that if one worked hard enough, one could accomplish miracles. Per's international reputation and his far-flung network of friends and admirers helped raise the image of UF's physics and chemistry departments. His Sanibel Symposia attracted eminent scientists, including many Nobel Prize winners, from every corner of the globe. Not only did he help make this university a respected member of the world-wide scientific community, he was also a truly kind, generous and decent man."
Contributions to a lecture fund in his memory, The Löwdin Fund, can be made to the UF Foundation.
J. Wayne Conner, 1919-2000
J. Wayne Conner, distinguished professor of romance languages and literatures, died at his home in Gainesville on December 10. Conner joined the UF faculty in 1962 as a professor of romance languages and literatures and as chairman of the department of foreign languages. During his tenure he built the department into a nationally competitive unit that offers a full slate of undergraduate and graduate programs in French and Spanish, including a PhD in romance languages. His field of specialization included medieval French literature, French literature of the romantic period, and realism and naturalism.
As chair, Conner carried out an orderly development and expansion of the foreign languages, resulting in separate departments of classics, Germanic and Slavic studies, African and Asian languages and literatures, and romance languages and literatures. He also was a leader in the creation of the college's interdepartmental program in linguistics. In 1977, the university recognized his outstanding contributions by promoting him to distinguished service professor.
Conner's numerous service commitments included serving as director of the humanities division in the college, chair of the humanities council, and president pro tempore of the CLAS faculty. He also served on many major academic committees and was an active member of several professional organizations, including the Modern Language Association, in which he chaired the medieval French section, the 19th-century French literature section, and was a member of the national delegate assembly. Best known for his meticulous toponymic studies on Balzac, Conner authored some 25 papers in top-tier national and international professional journals, and presented many papers at major professional meetings.
Raymond Gay-Crosier, professor of French, delivered a eulogy at a memorial service in December and described Conner as a natural leader and mediator. "To the very end, his interest in university and departmental matters remained as keen as his judgment. He also possessed an exemplary balance between his no-nonsense approach to problems and his wonderful sense of never-biting, always gentle, and therefore healing humor. To my knowledge, none of my colleagues ever doubted his moral fortitude and his deep generosity."