Tom Michalik grew up in northern New
Jersey. He earned a BS degree in Engineering Science/Physics from New Jersey
Institute of Technology (NJIT) in Newark, and then MA and Ph.D. degrees in
Physics from Temple University in Philadelphia. NJIT was characterized by a
well-known bullet hole in the cafeteria window. So Dr. Michalik was quite
astounded to arrive at Randolph in 1977 to find students singing “Somewhere Over
the Rainbow” by candlelight.
Michalik was trained as a theoretical physicist with special interest in the
theory of general relativity. When his thesis title, “Homogeneous Cosmologies
With Strong Neutrino Fields”, was first announced to the Randolph faculty,
spontaneous laughter erupted. Soon after the mirth subsided Dr. Michalik
realized the irrelevance of general relativity to his work at Randolph. He has
since devoted himself to three things: developing the ability to teach most of
the courses in a rigorous curriculum for physics majors, increasing the number
of physics faculty, and developing Winfree Observatory into a well-equipped
small college observatory suitable for student and faculty research.
Completely uninterested in campus politics, Dr. Michalik devotes all his energy
to the courses he teaches and his observatory work. Theoretically minded
students usually do their senior research projects with Dr. Michalik, and those
interested in astronomy or astrophysics can work with him at Winfree
Observatory. On nearly every clear night Dr. Michalik can be found at Winfree
Observatory testing his tolerance for cold and sleep deprivation. He has
contributed more than 3,000 variable star measurements to the international
database of the American Association of Variable Star Observers.