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Hall of Directors

W. Albert Hiltner
Director 1970-82

Born in 1914, Hiltner received his Bachelors of Science in 1937 from the University of Toledo. He received his Masters degree in 1938, was a Rackham Fellow in 1941, and received his Ph.D. degree in 1942 from the University of Michigan. He joined the faculty at the University of Chicago in 1943 and worked at Chicago's Yerkes Observatory and at the McDonald Observatory in Texas. His work on photoelectric photometry led to the discovery of interstellar polarization and provided the first evidence for a magnetic field pervading our galaxy. As president of the Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy from 1968-1971, Hiltner helped establish Kitt Peak, Arizona and Cerro Tololo, Chile as astronomical research observatories. In 1970, he returned to the University of Michigan to direct the observatories and the astronomy department. He developed a consortium with Dartmouth and M.I.T. for the cooperative use of the McGraw-Hill Observatory at Kitt Peak, Arizona. In 1985, a 2.4 meter reflecting telescope named in Hiltner's honor was installed at Kitt Peak. Hiltner was the last scientific director appointed at Michigan, because the observatories at Ann Arbor were no longer active and outpost observatories were shared consortiums managed by resident technicians. Hiltner retired from the University of Michigan on May 31, 1985 and died in 1991. The memorial garden and scarlet oak tree in front of the Detroit Observatory building was created in 1992 by his family in his honor.