Miles G. Pickering

Miles G. Pickering

Died May 15, 1991

Miles came to Yale from Olean High School in Olean, NY.

He observed In the class book for our 25th reunion in 1990: “Out of Life’s cafeteria, I chose a peaceful, scholarly existence, scratching out a living at the edge of academia, but immersed in a world filled with ideas and with articulate and thoughtful people. I have had time to write and think, a truly Apollonian way of life. Unlike my classmates, I never really graduated from college.” Nevertheless, he earned a Ph.D. from SUNY Stony Brook in 1970 and taught at Reed College and Columbia before becoming an associate professor of chemistry at Princeton.

Miles made his mark in chemistry education. At one point he was simultaneously in charge of the freshman chemistry labs at several Ivies, using different methods at each, and then giving common finals to assess outcomes. Outcomebased education has now become a watchword but he was miles ahead of the curve, so to speak. Many of Miles’s learned articles can be found in Journal of College Science Teaching and Journal of Chemical Education, including one in 1978 entitled The Great Yale-Princeton Titration Contest.

In the same Class Book, Miles wondered, “ Did (the play of life) turn out all right?” His own answer: “The play went well, even though, like its author, it was a little offbeat. I hope those few in the audience will have the sense to clap.” Miles passed away not long after our 25th reunion, on May 15, 1991. Miles’s mother, Margaret D. Pickering, honored him in 2000 by endowing at Princeton the Miles A. Pickering Scholarship.

Murray Stein remembers:
Brilliant and eccentric as they came. Loved to ride the subways in NYC all summer long.

Robert Wiznia remembers:
Miles was a very hard working, sincere friend who enjoyed the sciences, particularly chemistry and physics. Although his choice of such a difficult major resulted in a very demanding schedule, he always had the time to offer encouragement. This was of great help to me and was always appreciated. I have thought of Miles many times since his passing in 1991. He was a very good person and left us at much too early an age.