Robert L. and Catherine H. McDevitt

Catherine H. and Robert L. McDevitt

Professor Freericks is the inaugural holder of the Robert L. McDevitt, K.S.G., K.C.H.S and Catherine H. McDevitt, L.C.H.S. Chair in Physics. Robert McDevitt was an alumnus of Georgetown College, graduating in 1940. McDevitt, who owned and operated a funeral home business in Binghamton, N.Y, died in September of 2008 at the age of 90.

He bequeathed $75 million to Georgetown University, the institution's largest gift, at that time. Robert L. McDevitt's estate stipulated that a portion of the money endow faculty positions in disciplines such as theology and others that reflect McDevitt's "deep Catholic faith" and interests in science and technology. Rober McDevitt had a cousin who was in the Society of Jesus, helped found the Physics Department at Le Moyne University, and certainly must have helped foster his interest in physics.

Robert McDevitt was a Knight of Saint Gregory (K.S.G.) and a Knight Commander of the Holy Sepulchre (K.C.H.S.). His wife Catherine was a Lady Commander of the Holy Sepulchre (L.C.H.S.).

Robert McDevitt was an early investor in IBM stock which he inherited from his mother and held for his life. At the time of his passing, he was the single largest shareholder of IBM stock, valued at over $250 million. McDevitt's mother, Mary Graif McDevitt, was secretary to A. Ward Ford, one of the original board members of the Computing Tabulating Recording Company in the early 1900s. A. Ward Ford was responsible for hiring Tom Watson, Sr. as president, who eventually changed the company's name to IBM and ran it until the 1950s. Mary McDevitt apparently borrowed $125 to buy the company stock and reinvested back into the company, passing the shares on to her son.

Official University Announcement.

Short film introducing the four inaugural chairs (2011). (Caution, 21Mb)

Last modified January 12, 2010.

Jim Freericks, Professor of Physics