Faculty image Patricia S. Whitesell Director & Curator, University of Michigan Detroit Observatory


Patricia S. Whitesell, Ph.D., director and curator of the University of Michigan Detroit Observatory and adjunct lecturer in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, will retire from active faculty status on August 31, 2005.

Dr. Whitesell received her B.A. degree from Olivet College in 1972 and her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan in 1980 and 1994, respectively. Since joining the University of Michigan in 1973, she has held a number of academic and administrative positions, culminating in her appointment in 1998 to the newly created position of director and curator of the Detroit Observatory. She was appointed adjunct lecturer in museology in 2000.

The Detroit Observatory has undergone significant transformation under the guidance of Dr. Whitesell. Her exemplary work on its restoration led to several awards, including the Restoration Project of the Year Award from the City of Ann Arbor, the Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History, and the Preservation Award from the Michigan Historic Preservation Network. She is also recognized for the creation of the Detroit Observatory Museum and Library, which is housed within the observatory building. This project involved assisting with researching and locating artifacts, establishing permanent loan arrangements, creating a registration database, and designing and installing exhibits.

Dr. Whitesell has lectured to numerous classes on topics related to the history and restoration of the Detroit Observatory and other early observatories, directed field experiences, and participated in faculty mentoring programs. She has published articles in the Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, as well as several books, including A Creation of His Own: Tappan's Detroit Observatory. The numerous honors she has received include the Herbert C. Pollock Award, a fellowship in the Arts of Citizenship Program, and a certificate of recognition from the History and Traditions Committee. She is a member of the American Astronomical Society, the Antique Telescopes Society, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Washtenaw County Historical Society, among other organizations.

The Regents now salute this distinguished faculty member for her dedication and commitment by naming Patricia S. Whitesell, director and curator emerita of the Detroit Observatory.


Regents’ Proceedings

May, 2005, Page 368

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