June 2001: Milton Muelder gives over $300,000 to the SOAR Telescope project

  • Jun 1, 2001

The SOAR (SOuthern Astrophysical Research) consortium - in which Michigan State University is a key partner - will play a major role in the next generation of astronomy research in large part due to the development of a state-of-the-art telescope to be located in the mountains of Chile.

Few people understand the benefits the telescope will provide quite like Dr. Milton Muelder, a history professor and vice-president emeritus who has enriched the MSU community for over sixty-five years as a teacher, administrator and benefactor. He believes in the value of SOAR so much that he recently finalized an irrevocable $305,000 estate gift in support of the telescope.

During a presentation to University Development, Dr. Muelder eloquently and movingly summed up why he thought that a knowledge of astronomy was an integral part even of a liberal arts education.

 Photo of CNS Dean Leroi, Dr. Muelder, and P-A Chair Dr. Bauer

CNS Dean Leroi, Dr. Muelder, and P-A Chair Bauer at the University Club, June 2000

University Development asked Dr. Muelder to express in words the importance of support for the project, and he graciously supplied the following as a contribution to their Development Newsletter:

Windows And More Windows Of Opportunity: The SOAR Telescope

"Supremely and ideally perched high in the Chilean Andes and blessed with an atmospheric ambience of dry and infrared air - so coveted by astronomers - the SOAR telescope offers a superb window not only to explore the mysteries of our own galaxy but that of galaxies beyond. We are invited to become interested spectators of scientific probes seeking to unravel the mysteries of the universe, some would say to carry us back virtually to the creation of the cosmos. These are endeavors of majestic proportions.

Repercussions have not ceased from that gigantic bang 13 billion years ago which set the cosmos and all its constituent parts in motion, including the earth and its solar system. Some galaxies have already died, some new galaxies have been formed, and others are being formed. All are in a state of flux. Nature's store of secrets invites continuous explorations and challenges to the human mind. We have been informed that 90% of matter of the universe is missing in the sense that we as yet have no way to detect it. We have gone far in our search for the component parts of the atom, but what of the component parts of the universe? And will the universe continue to expand indefinitely, remain about the same, or slow down and ultimately collapse back upon itself?

Photo of Dr. Milton Muelder

Dr. Milton Muelder

In an especially created viewing room on campus, we can have a front row seat to the spectacular scientific probes of our truly eminent MSU scientists - thanks to the magic of spontaneous digital transmissions from Chile. Few research endeavors can match that of the SOAR telescope in the breadth of its audience appeal and participation, not only for scientists in physics and astronomy and their graduate students but the wider academic audience and even the general public.

I harbor the ardent belief that endeavors emanating from this telescope will contribute significantly to making life for us earthlings more meaningful, more exciting, more interesting and even more highly valued by raising our individual awareness as well as that of the general public of our status in a fascinating, moving and ever-changing universe.

SOAR is a multi-institutional enterprise (Chile,Brazil, University of North Carolina and Michigan State University) requiring joint financial funding. It is imperative that MSU not miss this opportunity to make a quantum advance in its astronomy studies."

Dr. Milton Muelder
East Lansing, Michigan

For more information on supporting the SOAR telescope, contact Suzette Hittner, Director of Development for the College of Natural Science, at (517) 353-9855.