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Longtime professor Vic Mansfield dies at age 67

June 7, 2008

By Tim O'Keeffe on
Colgate University News (Hamilton, NY)
June 4, 2008

Vic Mansfield, a longtime professor of physics and astronomy who
helped lead an insightful workshop during the recent campus visit by
the Dalai Lama, died Tuesday after a two-year battle with lymphoma. He was 67.

Mansfield joined the Colgate faculty in 1973, armed with a doctorate
in theoretical astrophysics from Cornell University and burning
interests in cosmology, computational methods, and the conjunction of
science and spirituality.

In his 35 years at Colgate, he lectured in physics, astronomy,
numerical analysis, and in all components of the core curriculum,
inspiring students with his eloquence, enthusiasm, expertise and high

Students consistently described his classes as rigorous and
challenging yet always a joy to attend. Mansfield had a keen
appreciation of the beauty and subtlety of modern physics, and could
convey these to his students with clarity and insight.

His Core: Tibet course was a perennial favorite with students, who
called it transformative while citing his passion, humor, and
spontaneity. In April 2008 he was the co-recipient of the Sidney J.
and Florence Felten French Prize for inspirational teaching.

Mansfield co-founded a successful computer software company in 1982,
and then, working with Colgate faculty and students, developed and
published a numerical methods "toolkit" for the programming language Pascal.

Recognizing the enormous impact that personal computers would have on
science and education, he originated a unique course in computational
physics, and lobbied successfully for a dedicated state-of-the-art
classroom in which to teach his course.

For two decades, he maintained the technical integrity of that
classroom, and taught his computational physics course with high
approval ratings from students.

A deep interest in Tibetan Buddhism launched him on a scholarly quest
to harmonize scientific thought with Buddhist teaching. His many
years of study resulted in numerous published articles as well as
three highly regarded books.

The latest, Tibetan Buddhism and Modern Science (2008, Templeton
Foundation Press), was graced by an introduction written by the Dalai Lama.

An ill Mansfield gave the book to His Holiness in an emotional
presentation while the Dalai Lama was on campus in April, providing a
culmination of Mansfield's scholarly endeavors and perhaps the most
poignant moment of his intellectual life.

Mansfield is survived by his wife, Elaine, two sons David and
Anthony, and his mother, Virginia Pepitone A memorial service will be
held 2 p.m. Sunday, June 8, at Wisdom's Goldenrod Center for
Philosophic Studies, 5801 Route 414, Hector, NY.
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