OFFICE OF THE DEAN - DIVISION OF PHYSICAL SCIENCES
December 4, 2014
It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Marvin “Murph” Goldberger, a long-time friend and colleague to many of us at UC San Diego. Murph died last Wednesday, November 26, in La Jolla. He was 92.
Murph was an emeritus professor of physics and dean of UC San Diego’s Division of Natural Sciences from 1994 to 1999, following a prominent career that included working on the Manhattan Project and serving as the president of Caltech. He was one of the youngest physicists to work on the Manhattan Project. As a graduate student at the University of Chicago, he conducted research under the famed physicists Enrico Fermi and Edward Teller, receiving his doctorate in physics in 1948. He was a faculty member at Chicago for seven years, starting in 1950, before moving to Princeton University, where he remained for two decades until 1978, when he was appointed the fifth president of Caltech.
Murph’s interest in arms-control issues during his early years at Princeton led him to assist in the formation of an elite group of scientists in 1959, known as JASON, which provided scientific advice to the Pentagon on nuclear weapons and other defense technologies. He was the group’s first chairman and served in that capacity for six years. He returned to Princeton, New Jersey in 1987 to assume the directorship of the Institute for Advanced Study and in 1991 returned to California to become a professor of physics at UCLA, where he remained until arriving in La Jolla in 1993. He was appointed a professor of physics at UC San Diego 1993 and retired in 1999 as an emeritus professor, but frequently came to campus from his home in La Jolla to visit with colleagues.
Murph’s wife, Mildred, whom he met while both were at the University of Chicago working on the Manhattan Project, died in 2006. He is survived by his sons, Joel and Sam, and three granddaughters, Nicole, Natalie and Natasha. The family is planning a memorial service for friends and colleagues on the campus that will be announced in the next month or so.
For more about Murph’s accomplishments, see our campus story at: