Victor Mansfield (1941-2008)

Vic Mansfield, longtime professor of physics and astronomy, helped lead an insightful workshop during a 2008 visit by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  He died June 3, 2008 after a two-year battle with lymphoma.  He was 67 years old.

Vic attended Dartmouth College and completed graduate studies at Cornell.  Vic and his wife, Elaine, were among the founding members of Wisdom’s Goldenrod Center for Philosophic Studies, where they were students of Anthony Damiani's and were later class leaders in their own right.

Vic joined the Colgate faculty in 1973, armed with a PhD in theoretical astrophysics from Cornell University and burning interests in cosmology, computational methods, and the conjunction of science and spirituality.  In his 35 years at Colgate, he lectured in physics, astronomy, numerical analysis, and in all components of the Core Curriculum, inspiring students with his eloquence, enthusiasm, expertise and high expectations.  Students consistently described his classes as rigorous and challenging, yet always a joy to attend.  His core Tibet course was a perennial favorite with students, who called it transformative, citing Vic’s passion, humor, and spontaneity.  In April, 2008, he was the co-recipient of the Sidney J. and Florence Felten French Prize for inspirational teaching.

Vic’s interest in understanding the universe was matched by his profound personal dedication to living the examined life.  His deep connection to Tibetan Buddhism launched him on a scholarly quest to compare scientific thought with Buddhist teaching.  His many years of studies resulted in numerous published articles as well as three highly regarded books.  The latest, Tibetan Buddhism and Modern Science (2008, Templeton Foundation Press), was graced by an introduction written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and was presented by Vic to His Holiness during a visit to Colgate in April.  This was the culmination of Vic’s scholarly endeavors and the most poignant moment of his intellectual life.  What could have been sweeter than the affectionate embrace bestowed on him by the Dalai Lama upon accepting Vic’s final book?  Vic felt that it was worth the physical struggle of the last months to receive this embrace and the French Prize for inspirational teaching.

Vic was a board member for the PBPF in the 1980s.  Both his and Elaine’s contributions over the past thirty years have helped PB to come into print and remain available to a wider public. www.vicmansfield.com