Raymond V Adams was founding chair of the department and in 1960 one of a handful of inaugural university faculty to first hold classes on campus.
Ray came in as professor of physics and helped design and equip McCarthy Hall, the university's first instructional building, while developing the physics curriculum from scratch and hiring the first physics faculty members. Ray emphasized laboratory courses and lecture demos, hallmarks the department continues to strive for.
Ray earned his bachelor's degree in physics from Kansas State University and doctorate in physics at Caltech. In the midst of his doctoral studies, he served as a scientific consultant to the Army's Far East Air Forces in the summer of 1945, giving technical advice in setting up in-field training in the use of rockets for pilots.
Ray retired in 1989 and passed away in 2007 at the age of 86.
Dan Black was one of Ray's first students and likes to relate that Professor Adams in those early days was especially 'respected' for announcing at the start of a course, "If you don’t like the way I teach, assign homework, or grade…, take it up with the chairman of the department. By the way, I'm the chairman of the department."
When Ray retired, he established the Eiker-Adams Creativity Award to highlight the efforts and innovation of undergraduate students who develop new experiments that can be used in the department's teaching laboratories.
Ray also bequeathed a substantial endowment to the department for continued support of laboratory and lecture demo development. Bob Gill, another of Ray's early students, serves as executor. After earning his bachelor degree, Bob accepted a job with Ray as department tech while teaching labs and astronomy part-time in the department. (Bob worked in the department until 1990, when he became the CSUF environmental compliance officer before moving on in 2005 to become the director of risk management, environmental health, and occupational safety at Cal State Dominguez Hills.)
Throughout his career, Ray remained active across campus in faculty governance and was one of the first chairs of the Faculty Council, now known as Academic Senate. Even after his retirement, he continued to visit the campus to consult with colleagues and to mentor and tutor students.
Ray will be long remembered not only for his fond command of Robert's Rules of Order but also for his kind dedication to his students and colleagues alike.