About Willem Prins and "Willem's Way"

Willem was a highly regarded and still young professor of chemistry rising to the height of his career in the early 1970s. He was a man of quiet dignity and of gentle, friendly warmth. Even though he was an international star in polymer chemistry, he was unassuming and reassuring in his relationships with students and colleagues. I saw Willem often around campus, and we exchanged greetings in passing. On a blustery Friday afternoon in the summer of 1974, we chanced to pass one another and to exchang greetings on the walkway that starts a few meters beyond the Bowne Hall Chemistry Buidling, at the corner of the biological research labs, winds past the tennis courts, and reaches the Women's Building. Like Willem, the walkway is unassuming in its gentle way, and it has no particular name, but to me it has been "Willem's Way" since that ominous afternoon in July 1974.
In the Sunday paper that weekend, the Syracuse University community was touched to its soul to read that two faculty members from the College of Arts and Sciences, George Stern in psychology and Willem Prins, had been lost in a storm on Lake Ontario.

From There Is Not More of Wonder: ...than a firefly's playful flickering in a child's cupped hands by Thomas Paul Fondy.
Short CV
  • 1952: M.Sc. in Chemistry at Groningen University, The Netherlands.
  • 1955: Ph.D. with Prof. J.J. Hermans at Leiden University, The Netherlands.
  • 1955-1957: Post-doc with Prof. P. Debye.
  • 1957-1961: Research assistant and assistant professor at Syracuse University, N.Y., U.S.A.
  • 1961-1968: Professor of Polymer Science at Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands.
  • 1968-1974: Professor of Chemistry at Syracuse University, N.Y., U.S.A.
  • 1974: Died on Lake Ontario, Canada.

Key papers

Structure-Property Relations of Thermoreversible Macromolecular Hydrogels, Pines, E, Prins, W, Macromolecules 1973, 6(6), 888-895.
Photoregulation of Polymer Conformation by Photochromic Moieties .1. Anionic Ligand to an Anionic Polymer, Vanderve. G, Prins, W, Photochemistry and Photobiology 1974, 19(3), 191-196.