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This interview with William E. Gordon was conducted as part of a history of planetary radar astronomy underwritten by NASA. The topics covered reflect the narrow requirements of that history. Gordon begins with a brief mention of the Waynick Memorial Lecture, before discussing the work on radio propagation and scattering that led to his dissertation work at Cornell University under Henry Booker in the department of electrical engineering.
Interview focuses on Sproull’s career at Cornell University, his decision to become Provost, later President, of the University of Rochester, and his efforts to create ‘steeples of excellence’ in physics, notably the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE). Sproull discusses LLE’s founding years, including his assessment of Moshe Lubin’s ideas for laser ignition, attempts to raise state, federal, and private funds for LLE, tensions with other departments within the university, and LLE’s relationships with other laser laboratories, including Lawrence Livermore.