We are saddened to report that Professor Emeritus William G. McMillan passed away this morning as the result of a heart attack at the age of 83. Bill's connections to our department go back over 60 years. A native Californian, he entered UCLA after graduation from Montebello High School andreceived a B.A. in chemistry in 1941. He continued his studies at Columbia University, where he earned a Master's degree in chemistry and, in 1945, a Ph.D. in chemical physics. Bill's thesis research in statistical mechanics with Joseph E. Mayer was concerned with the theory of solutions. The results, known as the McMillan-Mayer theory, are still widely cited. From 1944-46, Bill was employed by the Special Alloys and Materials Project, a part of the Manhattan Project.
After receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship, Bill carried out research in nuclear physics at the University of Chicago with Edward Teller. In 1947 he came to UCLA as an assistant professor and rose to the rank of full professor in 1959. Bill became chair of the department in 1959 and served until 1965. He led the department through a period of rapid growth and development of its research and teaching programs. His strong leadership was instrumental in bringing the department to national attention.
Bill always felt a strong commitment to government service. He worked for the RAND Corporation as a consultant to the U.S. military and helped form the SAGE Advisory Committee that reported on weapons tests. While on leave from the University, he worked as an advisor to the armed forces in Vietnam. Bill's research interests were broad and his understanding very deep. In 1971 he founded McMillan Science Associates, which he built up over subsequent decades as a wide-ranging consulting company for high technology and military projects. He was interested in topics as diverse as global warming, ozone depletion and atmospheric studies of Venus.
Bill is survived by his wife Nancy, three
children and six grandchildren.