Physics professor Claud W. Lovelace, an expert in string theory who has taught at Rutgers University for 40 years, has three interests in life: classical music, parakeets and, of course, physics.
That’s why the 77-year-old professor, who has no spouse or children, decided to will his entire estate to the university’s Physics and Astronomy Department, said the department chair, Professor Ronald Ransome.
Lovelace has pledged $1.5 million to match funds provided by an anonymous donor to endow the first of 18 academic chairs, the university announced Monday. Lovelace said he wants to strengthen the university’s work in physics with practical applications, an area he described as the "opposite extreme" of his specialty as a theorist. The rest of the money will endow a graduate fellowship, Ransome said.
The anonymous donor last summer gave Rutgers $27 million — the largest individual donation the university has ever received — with the stipulation that the money be matched to increase the number of endowed chairs at the school by almost half, said Rutgers University Foundation President Carol P. Herring.
An endowed chair, considered an honor to give to a professor, can be used by the university to recruit a leader in an academic field or keep a valuable professor from being poached by another institution, Herring said. A small percentage of the endowment goes toward the professor’s salary and benefits.