Chestertown, MD, May 10, 2001 — In a practice hearkening to grand, old university traditions, the University of Maryland, College Park renamed its physics building in honor of Washington College President John Toll during a ceremony held Thursday, May 3, 2001. The renaming acknowledges Dr. Toll's important contributions as the former physics department chair at Maryland and former president and chancellor of the University of Maryland System (now the University System of Maryland).
"In baseball, Yankee Stadium is rightly known as 'The house that Ruth built'. In the same way, our department should be known as the 'The department that Toll built'," said physics department chair Jordan A. Goodman during the naming ceremony. "Professor Toll is, in large part, responsible for building this department, which is now one of the largest and best-known physics departments in the world."
After earning a B.S. degree with highest honors in physics from Yale in 1944, Toll served in the Navy during WWII. In 1952 he completed his Ph.D. in physics at Princeton, where he helped establish what is now the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. In 1953 he became chair of Maryland's physics department, which was broadened to create the astronomy program. Thirteen years later he left to take over the presidency of the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In 1978 he returned, first as President and later as Chancellor of the expanded University of Maryland system.
Toll was a Guggenheim Fellow, has held leadership roles in dozens of organizations, and has received national and international honors and honorary degrees. He pioneered the establishment of relations between the State of Maryland and China as one of the first university presidents to visit China in the 1970's.
In physics he is recognized as a leader in developing the modern approach to dispersion theory and its application to problems on elementary particle physics. Upon Toll's leaving the Chancellor's Office in 1989 and returning to the Department of Physics, the Board of Regents conferred upon him the status of Chancellor Emeritus. He currently serves as President of Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, and as a part-time physics faculty member in the University of Maryland's College of Computer, Mathematical and Physical Sciences.
Toll was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his "distinguished achievements in advancing quantum field theory and for unparalleled leadership in strengthening academia and science education in the U.S." Since 1874, the Council has elected members whose "efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished." Members will be recognized during the Association's Annual Meeting in February.
Last year Toll also was chosen as the distinguished Marylander for the Year 2000 by the University of Maryland chapter of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. The award is given each year to a "distinguished Marylander who has made significant contributions to the University of Maryland."
"This honor is unexpected and humbling," said Toll. "I am proud to be part of the history and great traditions of the University of Maryland."