Milstein Receives
  Hamilton Medal



Robin Yerkes Horton
John Metaxas '80


Heidi Pomfret '92
Howard Selinger '71

Retired Technician Endows Packer-Bayliss Scholarship

By Timothy P. Cross

Jerome Packer
Jerome Packer

In a touching and generous gesture, retired technician Jerome Packer, who worked as a member of the Columbia staff for 44 years, has endowed a permanent scholarship at the College that will honor disabled alumnus Geoffrey Bayliss '82, who had worked with Packer in a Pupin laboratory while a student.

Packer began working for Columbia in 1956 in the Pegram Laboratory, which was next to Pupin Hall, and later became foreman of the lab's electronics shop. In the 1970s, professors Alan Sacks and Robert Novick recommended him for a position in the Pupin physics laboratory. As Pupin's senior electronic technician, Packer helped set up experiments in the lab, regularly supervised as many as five work-study students, and became friends with a generation of students and professors. "I feel like I was part of the machinery of the school, part of the family," says Packer, betraying his technical background.

Bayliss worked in the physics lab with Packer for four years. Packer used to call him "Sir Lancelot" because of the student's courtly demeanor and remembers how Bayliss helped another student establish the Hartley on Rye delicatessen in Hartley Hall. Bayliss, an architecture major who painted and sculpted, was planning on becoming an architect, not a physicist, but he took to working in the lab with Packer.

As his classmates may remember, Bayliss's plans to become an architect were cut short the day after his 1982 graduation, when the van in which he was riding collided with a tractor-trailer on the Massachusetts Turnpike. The collision took the lives of his girlfriend, Rebecca Hyde, and his classmate, Edward Brown '82. Bayliss, who barely survived, spent nine months in a coma followed by an extended stay in a New Hampshire rehabilitation center.

Through physical therapy, Bayliss eventually regained the ability to walk, but the collision left him cognitively disabled with permanent memory loss. In 1989, his family moved him to a house in Gloucester, Mass., where he receives

24-hour-a-day assistance. According to Catherine Bayliss, his sister and legal guardian, Bayliss now paints and does some sculpting — including a small figurine he sculpted for Packer to commemorate Packer's retirement from the physics lab in May 2000. He has also joined Local Colors, a Gloucester-area artists' cooperative. Catherine says her brother has kept a love for the College through all his trials.

When Packer decided to make a gift to Columbia, he immediately thought of Bayliss and "the hardship he had to go through" to make ends meet while a student. Others, he recognized, are in the same financial boat, and a scholarship seemed an ideal way to honor his friend while addressing this need. Students receiving awards from the Jerome Packer Endowed Scholarship Fund will be known as Packer-Bayliss Scholars.

"This gift betrays a generous heart," says Scott Taylor, gift planning coordinator in the University Development and Alumni Relations office. "It's an extension of the fond feelings for all the students he has come to know over his years at Columbia."

"This is wonderfully generous of Jerry," says Catherine Bayliss. "It's quite an honor."

Packer hopes his gift will encourage members of the Class of 1982 to follow his lead and make contributions to the Annual Fund. "Maybe more people will feel like I do," he says.


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