Houston, W. V. (William Vermillion), 1900-

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Physicist William Vermillion (1900-1968) was named the second president of the Rice Institute in 1946, and served as both President and a professor of physics. He greatly expanded graduate study and research throughout the Institute and established the residential college system. Houston made pioneering efforts in the fields of atomic spectroscopy and solid state theory. He was the author of two books: Principles of Mathematical Physics (1934) and Principles of Quantum Mechanics (1951). He retired in 1961 and was appointed an honorary chancellor of the University [renamed Rice University July 1, 1960], but continued to teach one graduate course, counsel graduate students and conduct research until his death.

From the description of William V. Houston personal papers, 1925-1968. (Rice University). WorldCat record id: 56772090

Died 1968.

From the description of Oral history interview with W. V. Houston, 1964 March 3. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 82481623

Physicist and president of Rice University, 1946-1961. President of the American Physical Society, 1962. Houston died in 1968.

From the description of Papers, ca. 1920-1968. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122372757

William Vermillion Houston was born in Mount Giliad, Ohio, on January 19, 1900. He received B.A. and B.S. degrees from Ohio State University in 1920. In 1922, he received an M.S. degree from the University of Chicago, and in 1925, his Ph.D. from Ohio State University.

Houston was a National Research Fellow at the California Institute of Technology, and taught there until he became president of what was then Rice Institute, later Rice University, in 1946. Houston studied in Germany on a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1927, assisting Warner Heisenberg and others in the development of quantum theory.

The U.S. Navy awarded Houston its Medal of Merit for directing development of the first homing torpedo and for supervising scientific studies which helped improve U.S. weapon effectiveness in the area of undersea warfare. Because of his genuine modesty, Houston never wore his Medal of Merit ribbon.

Houston made pioneering efforts in the fields of atomic spectroscopy and soild state theory. He was the author of two books: Principles of Mathematical Physics (1934) and Principles of Quantum Mechanics (1951), as well as of numerous scientific articles. After having been a fellow of the American Physical Society for many years, he was elected its president in 1962. He also served on the Society council.

Houston was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, serving on its council and on several important committees. He was also a member of the American Philosophical Society and several other scientific and educational associations. He served on the National Science Board and as a trustee of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

When Houston arrived at Rice in 1946, he greatly expanded graduate study and research. He also initiated a five-year engineering program with greater emphasis on the humanities than had previously existed, and implemented the planned residential college system.

Houston died after a brief illness, in Edinburgh, Scotland on August 22, 1968, while attending the 111th International Conference on Low-tempurature Physics at St. Andrew's University.

From the guide to the Rice University President's Office Records : William Vermillion Houston Rice UA Houston., 1946-1960, (Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University, Houston, TX)

William Vermillion Houston was born in Mount Giliad, Ohio, on January 19, 1900. He received a B.A. in physics and a B.S. in education from Ohio State University in 1920. In 1922, he received an M.S. degree from the University of Chicago, and in 1925 he received a Ph.D. from Ohio State University. Houston then went on to study in Germany on a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1927, assisting Warner Heisenberg and others in the development of quantum theory. Later, Houston was a National Research Fellow at the California Institute of Technology.

Dr. Houston was named the second president of the Rice Institute in 1946 after nineteen years on the faculty of the Californian Institute of Technology. When he arrived at Rice, Houston served as both President and a professor of physics. He greatly expanded graduate study and research throughout the Institute. He recognized the value of humanities in making the complete student and he initiated a five-year engineering program under which students took courses in humanities before taking specialized engineering courses. Finally, he established the residential college system. Houston retired in 1961 and was appointed an honorary chancellor of the University [renamed Rice University July 1, 1960], but continued to teach one graduate course, counsel graduate students and conduct research until his death.

Houston made pioneering efforts in the fields of atomic spectroscopy and solid state theory. He was the author of two books: Principles of Mathematical Physics (1934) and Principles of Quantum Mechanics (1951). In addition to these books, Houston wrote dozens of numerous scientific articles.

The United States Navy awarded Houston its Medal of Merit for directing development, during World War II, of the first homing torpedo and for supervising scientific studies that helped improve United States weapon effectiveness in the area of undersea warfare. Houston also served on several national subcommittees to investigate the United States missile and satellite programs, United States atomic energy, and to explore the how the United States could help reorganize the postwar Japanese scientific community.

In addition to his academic career and his consulting for various government agencies and national subcommittees, Houston served on several scientific professional organizations. After having been a Fellow of the American Physical Society for many years, Houston was elected its president in 1962. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the National Science Board and served as a trustee of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

After retirement from Rice, Houston wintered in the city of Houston, summering in California. He continued his civic leadership and remained active in many community affairs. While on the first of several stops to meet with physicists in Europe, Houston died in Edinburgh, Scotland, on August 22, 1968. He had been attending the 111th International Conference on Low-temperature Physics at St. Andrew's University.

From the guide to the William V. Houston Personal Papers, MS 426., 1925-1968, (Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Houston, W. V. (William Vermillion), 1900-. Oral history interview with W. V. Houston, 1964 March 3. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Tamiya, Hiroshi, 1903-1984. Hiroshi Tamiya caricature sketch book, 1948-1951. Chemical Heritage Foundation, Othmer Library of Chemical History
creatorOf William V. Houston Personal Papers, MS 426., 1925-1968 Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University
creatorOf Rice University President's Office Records : William Vermillion Houston Rice UA Houston., 1946-1960 Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University, Houston, TX
referencedIn Herring, William Conyers, 1914-. Oral history interview with William Conyers Herring, 1974 July 23, 29, 31 October. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Rice University Presidential Inaugural Committee Records: President William Vermillion Houston Rice UA 116., 1947 Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University, Houston, TX
creatorOf Houston, W. V. (William Vermillion), 1900-. Papers, ca. 1920-1968. American Institute of Physics
referencedIn Archive for the History of Quantum Physics, 1898-1950 (bulk), 1898-1950 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Houston, W. V. (William Vermillion), 1900-. William V. Houston personal papers, 1925-1968. Rice University, Fondren Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Abraham, Max, 1875-1922 person
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associatedWith Becquerel, Jean, 1878-1953 person
associatedWith Benedicks, Carl Axel Fredrik, 1875-1953 person
associatedWith Berliner, Arnold, 1862-1942 person
associatedWith Birge, Raymond T., (Raymond Thayer), 1887-1980 person
associatedWith Bohr, Niels Henrik David, 1885-1962 person
associatedWith Born, Max, 1882-1970 person
associatedWith Breit, Gregory, 1899-1981 person
associatedWith Broglie, Louis de, 1892-1987 person
associatedWith Cockcroft, John, Sir, 1897-1967 person
associatedWith Compton, Arthur Holly, 1892-1962 person
associatedWith Coster, Dirk, 1889-1950 person
associatedWith Darwin, Charles Galton, Sir, 1887-1962 person
associatedWith Debye, Peter J. W., (Peter Josef William), 1884-1966 person
associatedWith Dieke, Gerhard Heinrich, 1901-1965 person
associatedWith Dirac, P. A. M., (Paul Adrien Maurice), 1902-1984 person
associatedWith Eddington, Arthur Stanley, Sir, 1882-1944 person
associatedWith Ehrenfest, Paul, 1880-1933 person
associatedWith Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 person
associatedWith Fermi, Enrico, 1901-1954 person
associatedWith Fokker, A. D., (Adriaan Daniel), 1887-1972 person
associatedWith Fowler, A., (Alfred), 1868-1940 person
associatedWith Franck, James, 1882-1964 person
associatedWith Gerlach, Walther, 1889-1979 person
associatedWith Goudsmit, Samuel Abraham, 1902-1978 person
associatedWith Haber, Fritz, 1868-1934 person
associatedWith Heisenberg, Werner, 1901-1976. person
associatedWith Herring, William Conyers, 1914- person
associatedWith Hilbert, David, 1862-1943 person
associatedWith Joliot-Curie, Frédéric person
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associatedWith Kapitsa, P. L., (Petr Leonidovich), 1894-1984 person
associatedWith Kayser, H., (Heinrich), 1853-1940 person
associatedWith Kemble, Edwin C., (Edwin Crawford), 1889-1984 person
associatedWith King, W. James. person
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associatedWith Kramers, Hendrik Anthony, 1894-1952 person
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associatedWith Laue, Max von, 1879-1960 person
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associatedWith McLennan, J. C., (John Cunningham), 1867-1935 person
associatedWith Meitner, Lise, 1878-1968 person
associatedWith Mie, Gustav, 1868-1957 person
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associatedWith Ohio State University corporateBody
associatedWith Ohio State University - Alumni and Alumnae. corporateBody
associatedWith Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 1904-1967 person
associatedWith Paschen, F., (Friedrich), 1865-1947 person
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associatedWith Phillips, G. C. (Gerald Cleveland), 1922- person
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associatedWith Rice University corporateBody
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associatedWith Rice University. Presidents. corporateBody
associatedWith Rosenfeld, L., (Leon), 1904-1974 person
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associatedWith Sommerfeld, Arnold, 1868-1951. person
associatedWith Stark, Johannes, 1874-1957 person
associatedWith Tamiya, Hiroshi, 1903-1984. person
associatedWith Thomson, J. J., Sir, (Joseph John), 1856-1940 person
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associatedWith University of Chicago. corporateBody
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associatedWith Von Neumann, John, 1903-1957 person
associatedWith Warburg, Emil Gabriel, 1846-1931 person
associatedWith Weisskopf, Victor Frederick, 1908-2002 person
associatedWith Zeeman, Pieter, 1865-1943 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Germany--Munich
Germany--Leipzig
Subject
Solid state physics--History
Solid state physics--Research
Spectroscopy--Research
Solid state physics-research
Quantum theory--Research
Physics--Study and teaching
Solid state physics
Hydrogen
Fine-structure constant
Superconductivity--Research
Mathematical physics
Electron paramagnetic resonance
Interferometers
Physicists--Retirement
Quantum statistics
Spectrum analysis
Atomic spectroscopy
Physics--Research
Universities and colleges--Study and teaching
Quantum theory
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1900-01-19

Death 1968-08-22

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