Gift Planning

UVM Trailblazer Honors Husband's Memory

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Jeanne DetenbeckLast summer The University of Vermont lost one of its most beloved and celebrated teachers and researchers when Robert W. Detenbeck, emeritus professor of physics, died at age 80.

Robert and Jeanne Detenbeck already established a legacy with the university, and this year, Jeanne'77 has built on that legacy with a gift of $150,000.
The generous donation will be used to establish a fund in Robert's name.

The Dr. Robert W. Detenbeck Physics Student Support Fund will support tuition, internships, or research projects as determined by the chair of the department of physics. Awards will be made to undergraduate or graduate students majoring in physics, with preference given to graduate students.

Deviating From the Plan
Jeanne intended to establish the fund through her estate, but an unexpected jump in the value of stock convinced her it made sense to make the gift during her lifetime. This ways she could see the impact of her philanthropy.

"It's something I never expected to be able to do and could never do again," Jeanne says. "I hope I get a chance to meet some of the students who will benefit."

Enabling Growth
Robert held a doctorate in physics from Princeton University. He extensively researched quantum optics while at UVM. He ended his 28-year career at UVM in 1995, the same year he won the Alumni Association's George V. Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award.

"Bob guided and mentored so many students," recalls Jeanne. "That was what he really wanted to do most, to teach students and to advise them and such. After he died, I got cards and letters from former students, and even faculty, that he had helped along the way."

"This generous gift comes at an opportune time," said Dennis Clougherty, Ph.D., chair of the UVM Physics Department. "We are in the process of launching a Ph.D. program in physics, and we are looking forward to growing this program in a newly constructed, state of the art STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] complex in three years."

Honoring Robert's Legacy
In 1954, Robert and Jeanne both received bachelor's from the University of Rochester-he in physics and she in chemistry.

In 1977, Jeanne was a trailblazer for the growing numbers of nontraditional students, having earned her master's degree at age 45. She began taking geology courses at UVM after a trip to Colorado, where its mountainous beauty inspired her to learn more about the science behind it.

"I began auditing courses, and it just evolved into a degree in geology," she says.

Making a Difference
"This is a way to recognize the department for Bob's time there. Having his name on the fund means something to them and to me," Jeanne says, realizing her giving will positively impact students for years to come.

By planning a gift to The University of Vermont Foundation, you too can ensure your legacy will positively benefit UVM students after your lifetime.
Contact The Office of Gift Planning at 802-656-9536 or for more information on the ways you can give back to The University of Vermont.