Warren Young honored with endowed chair at planetarim

Warren M. Young Endowed Chair
From the left, YSU President Jim Tressel; Professor Patrick Durrell; Warren M. Young; and his son, George Young.

Patrick Durrell, distinguished professor of Astronomy and one of the region’s foremost experts on everything outer space, is the inaugural Dr. Warren M. Young Chair in Physics and Astronomy at Youngstown State University.
 
The position is named after Warren Young, international-known Astronomy legend who joined the faculty of YSU’s Physics and Astronomy Department in 1962. He was director of the Ward Beecher Planetarium at YSU for nearly 40 years, from its opening in 1967 to 2004. 

“I can’t say strongly enough what a great honor it is to be named to a position carrying the name of a person so admired across the region and the nation for his dedication to sharing his love of the skies and the stars with so many people for more than five decades,” said Durrell, who became planetarium director when Young retired in 2004. 

Young was on hand to present Durrell a medallion for the Chair position during a private ceremony in the planetarium on the YSU campus. 

“Pat and his staff have carried on the great tradition of the planetarium, and it is a perfect fit for Pat to be the first recipient of this chair,” Young said. 

Young’s son, George, established the academic chair through a $1.5 million endowment at the YSU Foundation. In addition to his leadership at the planetarium, Warren Young was chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department from 1979 to 2004.
 
Durrell earned a PhD in Physics in 1996 from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and held postdoctoral and teaching positions at the University of Waterloo, Case Western Reserve University, the University of British Columbia, and Penn State University, before coming to YSU in 2004. 
 
His active research program involves studies of the formation and evolution of galaxies through photometric studies of stars and globular star clusters both within and outside of galaxies, often making use of imaging data from the Hubble Space Telescope and large ground-based telescopes such as the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.  

The Ward Beecher Planetarium at YSU opened in 1966 and has since hosted field trips for literally hundreds of thousands of school children throughout the region, as well as classroom activities for YSU Astronomy classes and regular weekend shows open to the public. 
 
The facility was funded by a $1.6 million donation from Youngstown industrialist and philanthropist Ward Beecher. A major upgrade in 2006, funded by the Ward and Florence Beecher Foundations through their daughter, Eleanor Beecher Flad, replaced the original Spitz star projector with a GOTO Chronos and added the capability for full-dome video playback. An additional upgrade by the Ward and Florence Beecher Foundations in 2017 brought the latest in data visualizations to the planetarium, allowing guests to explore the universe in real-time. 

For more information on the planetarium, including a full listing of free public shows, visit https://www.wbplanetarium.org/.