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Dr. Ralph Landau, Trustee Emeritus

R. Landau

Dr. Ralph Landau, ChE '37, H '93, Trustee Emeritus, and a leading technological entrepreneur and innovator of the chemical and petrochemical industry, died on April 6 at the age of 87.

A University of Pennsylvania Trustee since 1977, Dr. Landau was chairman of Listowel, Inc.  He was the co-founder of Halcon Scientific-Design Group which developed ethylene glycol by thermal hydration--the chief component of antifreeze and used in the process of making Dacron polyester fiber. Halcon went on to produce numerous other substances and Dr. Landau held a number of significant patents.                  

He was a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and a consulting professor of economics at Stanford. He was a retired director of the Aluminum Company of America. Dr. Landau earned an Sc.D. in chemical engineering at MIT in 1941, and holds honorary degrees from New York Polytechnic Institute, Clarkson College, and Ohio State University, in addition to Penn where he received an honorary Doctor of Science, for being an "imaginative engineer, self-trained entrepreneur, and hand-on economist."

Formerly vice president of the National Academy of Engineering, Dr. Landau served on the National Research Council's Governing Board. He was a fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1996.

The recipient of over 50 awards and honors, Dr. Landau received both the Petroleum and Petrochemical Division and the Founders awards of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, in addition to the Chemical Industry Medal, the Perkin Medal, and the Winthrop-Sears Award for Chemical Entrepreneurship. In 1985, he received the National Medal of Technology, and, in 1987, the John Fritz Medal. In 1997, he was awarded the first Othmer Gold Medal of the Chemical Heritage Foundation.  He was a life member emeritus of the MIT Corporation, a senior trustee of CalTech, former trustee of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and former chairman of the Princeton University School of Engineering Advisory Council.

Dr. Landau was chair of the SEAS Board of Overseers, 1979-85 and continued on the Board until 1985. At SEAS, he established the Ralph Landau Professorship in Management and Technology, the Ralph Landau Fellowship, and at the School of Veterinary Medicine, the Robert R. Marshak Term Professorship in Aquatic Medicine. In 1977, he was one of nine trustees and alumni who established the challenge fund for the Million Dollar match to help the annual giving program reach its goal of $4.5 million.

Dr. Landau is survived by his wife, Claire, and his daughter, Dr. Laurie J. Landeau*, WG '84, V '84, an overseer at the School of Veterinary Medicine.


Dr. Karl von Vorys, Political Science

K. von Vorys

Dr. Karl von Vorys, professor of political science, died at home on April 1, at the age of 76. He was a political theorist who taught at Penn for over four decades.

Born in Germany, he came to the U.S. in 1948, received his B.A. degree from the College of Steubenville (now the Franciscan University of Steubenville) in 1950 and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Georgetown University 1953 and 1955 respectively. He became an  assistant professor of political science at the University of South Dakota that year. He continued his education with fellowships from the Ford Foundation and the Social Science Council at the University of Iowa, University of Denver, and Harvard University. He became a Fulbright lecturer in 1961 in international relations at the University of Dacca then in Pakistan. It shaped his intellectual perspective on the close tie between international and domestic politics and established his style of research that required knowing personally senior political decision-makers. His relationships with the President and other political leaders of Pakistan focused his interest on political development and the problems that foreign aid and contacts created as "an international demonstration effect" of rising expectations, threatening political stability.  He returned to the U.S. and joined the Center of International Studies at Princeton and completed his first major book, Political Development in Pakistan (1965). 

He became assistant professor of political science at Penn in 1963, was promoted to associate professor in 1966, and  in 1967 he accepted a position as Senior Advisor to the Ford Foundation in Malaysia for two years. Upon retuning to the U.S. in 1969, Dr. von Vorys returned to Penn, becoming professor of political science in 1976. He undertook two major educational projects that he continued throughout the rest of his life. The first was the Poverty Seminar that brought together political scientists with senior political decision- makers from Third World countries. "Dr. von Vorys believed that there could be no viable secular democratic development in a political system with extensive and persistent poverty," said colleague Dr. Henry Teune.

The second focused on undergraduates who had withdrawn from political life after Vietnam and Watergate. "Dr. von Vorys was determined to re-engage the young by bringing together the perspectives of academics and decision makers in the classroom," said Dr. Teune. He brought in guest speakers including: Presidents Nixon, Ford, and George H.W. Bush; Senators Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, and William E. Brock; press secretaries, media executives, reporters, journalists and military leaders. Students in the seminar usually spent an evening on an aircraft carrier and a military base. This semester the students stayed on the Harry S. Truman and visited Fort Bragg.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara; six daughters, Dr. Marie-Christine deLacoste-Azizi, Julie von Vorys, Beverly von Vorys-Norton, Natalie Elhardt, Carla McGuire and Kristie Vorys; two sons, Eric, and Colin; 17 grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

Donations may be made to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude's Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

Correction, May 11, 2004: This obituary originally misspelled Dr. Laurie Landeau's name. Her last name is Landeau, not Landau.

To Report A Death

Almanac appreciates being informed of the deaths of current and former faculty and staff members, students, and other members of the University community.

However, notices of alumni deaths should be directed to the Alumni Records Office at Room 545, Franklin Building, (215) 898-8136  or e-mail



  Almanac, Vol. 50, No. 29, April 13, 2004