Albert P. Carman: History of Excellence

Albert P. Carman
Albert P. Carman

Albert Pruden Carman was head of the Department of Physics from 1896 to 1929. He received the D. Sc. degree in 1895 from the College of New Jersey (later to become Princeton University), and studied under Helmholtz in Berlin. In 1892, he joined the Physics Department at Stanford University as "professor of electricity." He moved to Illinois as head four years later.

During his 33-year tenure as head , Carman developed the educational paradigm that still characterizes university departments of physics. Large numbers of engineering and science students were taught in the introductory physics courses.

A graduate degree program in physics was introduced in 1901 but was slow to catch on (U.S. national physics PhD production was about 15/year at that time). The department eventually awarded its first two Ph.D. degrees in 1910; by 1929, 36 had been granted. Until after World War II, however, physics was not widely recognized as a vocation or profession, and few students studied advanced undergraduate physics.

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