Prof. Schick recalled for teaching, mentorship, wit

Publication Date
Prof. Kenneth Schick

Prof. Kenneth Schick

Colleagues and other friends are remembering Kenneth L. Schick, the Frank and Marie Louise Bailey Professor of Physics Emeritus, who passed away on Sept. 16, 2021. He was 91.

Schick, who joined the College in 1959 and retired in 2000, was recalled for his dedication as a teacher, his encouragement as a mentor and his inquisitive nature.

“Ken hired me when I came to Union and made our family feel very welcome,” recalled Jay Newman., the R. Gordon Gould ’41 Professor of Physics Emeritus. “After he stepped down as chair, he joined me and numerous students in joint research projects that resulted in nine publications over a decade of collaboration.

“After his retirement, he was an active participant in our weekly department colloquia,” Newman said. “Ken always impressed me with his wide-ranging interests, sharp wit and deep concern for his students and colleagues. We'll miss the twinkle in his eyes when he asked a poignant question.”

Rebeca Koopman ’89, the R. Gordon Gould ’41 Professor of Physics, knew Schick first as a student and later a colleague. “He taught three of my classes, including astrophysics, which I pursued as my career, and he was a dedicated and inspiring professor,” she said. “He was a mentor to me as a beginning faculty member, always supportive and encouraging. Even after retirement, he was a frequent visitor to our department, participating in our weekly Astronomy Discussion Group and attending our colloquia, and always bringing his wit and perceptive questions.”

Born Feb. 20, 1930, in Brooklyn, New York, he received his high school diploma from Stuyvesant High School, a B.S. from Columbia University, and a PhD in Physics from Rutgers University. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

Among his service to the College, he served as department chair and faculty trustee. A champion of academic excellence, he recruited to Union a number of outstanding professors including two top GE scientists: the late Ralph Alpher, the author of the inaugural work on the Big Bang theory; and the late Herbert Strong, the inventor of artificial diamonds.

His wide-ranging research interests covered the electron gun, the surface physics of carbon, impact characteristics of high-speed particles, biophysics and white (random) noise generation.

He was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and visiting professor at the Weizmann Institute in Israel. He served on many Middle States Accreditation Committees.

Active in retirement, he was on the boards of the Saratoga Independent School and the Legal Equality Advocacy Firm, Inc. He founded the Saratoga chapter of the Torch Club. He reviewed physics textbooks for Knopf Doubleday Publishing.

Survivors include his wife of 64 years, Elaine; a daughter, Karen (Schick) Bellhouse; and son, Louis Schick. He was predeceased by his daughter, Ruth Schick.

Services will be at the convenience of the family.

Online remembrances may be made at