Joseph Platt – Physicist, President, and Prominent American

Joseph Platt graduated from Cornell University in 1942 with a PhD in Physics. His dissertation focused on the structure of metallic potassium. To be honest, I have no idea what that means. What I vaguely recall from a high school chemistry class is that potassium = K on the periodic table of elements. One of the perks of being a CCEPS Fellow: you learn new things all the time. Did you know that “potassium  is the seventh most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust (2.4% by mass)?” I certainly didn’t! Thanks to the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Platt served as President of Harvey Mudd College from 1956 to 1976. In a 1962 article, the Progress-Bulletin described him as “the world’s only ballad-singing college president.” I hope to find and share some of his songs as I make my way through the remaining boxes.

In the spring of 1975, just a year before stepping down as President, Joseph Platt was notified of his election to membership (through 1977) to the National Register of Prominent Americans and International Notables. He would have been 60 years old at the time. Cheers to Platt! Where do see yourself in five, ten, twenty years?

Tiara N. Yahnian-Murta