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Physics department celebrates tradition of excellence

October 22, 2010

Loyola's third president, the Rev. Edward A. Cumming, S.J., delivered WWL's first radio broadcast on March 31, 1922.

For nearly 100 years, the Loyola University New Orleans Physics Department has established itself as a vital player in supporting essential research that has transformed our lives. From creating New Orleans’ first radio station to developing research in seismology and astronomy, Loyola’s physics department has earned a reputation of excellence and innovation. Throughout the years, the department has been involved in various research areas including cryogenics, solid state physics, group theory and elementary particles, general relativity, cosmology, dark energy, biophysics and nanoscale technology.

Loyola will honor the department’s accomplishments along with current and former physics faculty and alumni on Oct. 29 with a private celebration in the Physics Lab in Monroe Hall.

One of the keys to the department’s reputation of excellence is a strong tradition of retaining outstanding faculty. Professors Carl Brans, Ph.D., Fr. James Carter, S.J., Ph.D., and Creston King, Ph.D., have a combined 144 years of teaching and research experience. These members of the physics faculty will be recognized for their continued service and teaching excellence during the reunion celebration.

Formed at the inception of the university, the physics department has developed alongside rapidly changing advances in physics and has made major contributions to the university and the larger scientific community through its work and research. Perhaps most notably, the physics program is credited for creating WWL Radio. Born in the basement of Loyola’s Marquette Hall in 1922, the radio station was nothing more than a science experiment that turned into one of the university’s most powerful and successful business ventures in later years through its sale in 1989. While it was owned by Loyola, the station propelled the university to the forefront of broadcast technology and new media.

The first radio broadcast was sent March 31, 1922, by Loyola’s third president the Rev. Edward A. Cumming, S.J. During the 1940s to the 1960s, the United States government recognized the influential power of WWL Radio, which at this time could be heard internationally, and used the station to broadcast messages in times of crisis, from World War II to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

“Loyola would not be the institution it is today without the pioneering work of the physics department,” said Loyola President Emeritus and current physics professor the Rev. James C. Carter, S.J., Ph.D. “Father Kunkel and Father Abell began the WWL Radio station, which gave birth to WWL-TV, which gave Loyola an outstanding endowment – an endowment which today enables the university to take bold steps into the future.”

For more information, contact Sean Snyder in Loyola’s Office of Public Affairs at smsnyder@loyno.edu or call 504-865-2074.

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