Alumni & Friends Profile

George J. Elbaum (AA '59, SM AA, NU '63, PhD NU '67),
The Whiteman Fellowships

George J. Elbaum (AA '59) with his wife Mimi Jansen
George J. Elbaum (AA '59, SM AA, NU '63, PhD NU '67) with his wife Mimi Jensen

George Elbaum had no intention of going on to graduate school upon completing his SB. Instead, he went to Los Angeles to work in aerospace. But when his employer,TRW, offered him a doctoral fellowship specifically for MIT, “I jumped at the chance.”

“Physics is beautiful,” according to George Elbaum, who holds an undergraduate and two masters degrees, as well as a Ph.D., all from MIT. Although “freshman physics was my nemesis, I had an epiphany while reviewing undergrad physics for the doctoral exam. I said to myself in awe, ‘Physics is beautiful.’ ”

“The doctoral fellowship allowed me to select a thesis that was not funded but that interested me and resulted in three very exciting years of my life, so now I want to give this opportunity to some talented graduate students.”

George had been totally inactive as an alumnus—no contacts, clubs,or reunions since leaving the Institute.Then in 1998, an article on a philanthropic project in the local newspaper “awoke me to giving back.”

Because he places such a high value on his MIT education,which “taught me to think analytically; it seemed natural to start giving back through MIT.” Since 1998,George has supported three graduate fellowships and two postdoctoral
fellowships in the MIT School of Science.The Whiteman Fellowships, named after George’s mother, Pauline Whiteman, are highly prized by the recipients.