Honorary Degree Recipient, G. Herzberg, 1953, Chancellor F.H. Auld presiding. U of S Archives, A-1680.
By Patrick Hayes, U of S Archives
On May 10, a permanent display honouring the life of Dr. Gerhard Herzberg will open in the Physics Building. The Nobel laureate and former University of Saskatchewan professor received 28 honorary degrees from universities around the world—the first from the University of Saskatchewan. Below is B.W. Currie’s (head of the Department of Physics) convocation citation in May 1953.
Eminent Chancellor, I present to you Dr. Gerhard Herzberg, associate director of the Division of Physics, National Research Council of Canada, Fellow of the Royal Society of London, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and member of many other learned societies, including the American Physical Society, the American Chemical Society, the Faraday Society and the American Astronomical Society.
Dr. Herzberg joined the physics department of this University in 1935, coming to us from the Institute of Technology, Darmstadt, Germany, where he had been a lecturer in physics, and where he had already made substantial progress toward establishing his now international reputation as a spectroscopist. The following 10 years saw him publish many research papers on atomic and molecular structure, direct the initial research efforts of a number of our students who are now, themselves, making substantial contributions to science, help to translate his book on atomic spectra and structure into English, and write two more books, one the "Spectra and Structure of Diatomic Molecules" and the other on "Infrared and Raman Spectra of Polyatomic Molecules." These books are recognized internationally as the outstanding text and reference books for spectroscopy.
His efforts on this campus did much to enhance our reputation for research in the physical sciences, and to develop an increased interest in research among our students and staff alike. He left us in 1945 to become professor of spectroscopy at Yerkes Observatory of the University of Chicago, but returned to Canada, his adopted country, in 1948, to direct fundamental research in physics at the National Research Council. There, in the same unassuming but efficient and enthusiastic way that he demonstrated so well on this campus, he is now furthering research in the physical sciences throughout Canada.
On behalf of the Council and Senate I ask that you confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.