Richard A. Zdanis, Provost and University Vice President Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Physics of Case Western Reserve University, died Sunday, May 5th at the Kobacker House in Columbus, Ohio following a stroke. He was 83.
Richard Zdanis was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1935. His father, Albert, was the son of Lithuanian immigrants and his mother, Elsie, the daughter of immigrants from Bohemia. The family resided in Baltimore, Catonsville and Ellicott City prior to moving to Lisbon, Maryland. In 1955, Zdanis married his wife, the former Barbara Rosenberger, and they resided with his parents at the family farm in Lisbon while he completed his undergraduate education.
He majored in physics at the Johns Hopkins University, completing his undergraduate credits in 1956. He deferred his degree until 1957 while commencing graduate studies and received his Ph.D. in 1960. Zdanis spent two years as a post-graduate instructor at Princeton University before returning to Johns Hopkins as an associate professor in 1962. He was promoted to full-professor and received tenure in 1969.
During the 1960’s and early 1970’s, he concentrated his efforts on teaching and research, co-chairing the high-energy group within the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins. Early particle physics research was conducted at the National Laboratory at Brookhaven, Long Island, NY and then moved to the newly completed Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) in Palo Alto, CA.
In 1975, Zdanis moved into the administration, as Associate Provost of the University and served in the additional capacity of Vice President for Administrative Services between 1976 and 1978. In 1979 he was named Vice Provost of Johns Hopkins University. In this role, he led several significant initiatives including the sale of the Garrett Coin Collection in four separate auctions from 1979 to 1981. Originally estimated to fetch approximately $8 million, the coins were collectively auctioned for over $25 million, raising critical funds at a time the University was facing a fiscal crisis. Zdanis also played a key role in formulating Hopkins successful response to NASA’s RFP for the Space Telescope Science Institute. NASA awarded the Institute to Hopkins in September, 1981.
He served on the Space Telescope Institute Council (STIC) of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) which provides oversight and advocacy for the Space Telescope Science Institute from 1990 to 1994 and as its Vice Chair from 1993 to 1994. He served as a member of the AURA Board of Directors from 1993 to 2000 and as the Vice Chair of the Board from 1994 to 1997.
Zdanis served as an active member of the Board of Trustees of Associated Universities (AUI) from 1976 to 1996 including as Chairman of the Board from 1981 to 1983, and as an Honorary Trustee from 1996 until his death. AUI founded the Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1947 and operated it until 1997, and operates the National Radio Astronomy Observatory which includes the Atacama Large Millimeter Array in northern Chile and the Very Large Array in New Mexico.
In July, 1988 Zdanis was named Provost and University Vice President of Case Western Reserve University, positions in which he served until his retirement in July, 2000. In this role, he was instrumental in the formation of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Case School of Engineering. He led efforts to strengthen activities including registration, research administration and technology transfer. He chaired the University’s efforts to prepare for Y2K issues across the campus.
Zdanis and his wife continued to live in the Shaker Heights neighborhood of Cleveland for a number of years following his retirement. He enjoyed woodworking and spending time in the Metro Parks. In 2012 the couple relocated to the Westerville suburb of Columbus to be closer to their daughter.
In addition to his wife, Barbara, he is survived by two children: Michael Zdanis of Glen Arm, Maryland, and Carole Zdanis Cavanagh of Westerville, Ohio; and six grandchildren