James Lu Valle ’36, M.S. ’37

Posted On - May 28, 2015


Lu Valle Commons, the new northeast student center, was the first campus building named to honor a UCLA student. James Lu Valle was the president of the Associated Graduate Students, a distinguished scholar in chemistry and physics and a track champion who won a bronze medal in the 1936 Olympic Games at Berlin. He was known as a “kind, brilliant, sincere, dedicated man,” in the words of a classmate. After receiving his Ph.D. at Cal Tech, Lu Valle joined the Eastman Kodak Company’s research laboratories, worked with Enrico Fermi’s nuclear research team at the University of Chicago and carved out a distinguished career in the photographic industry, where he made notable contributions to research. He went to Stanford University in 1971 as a visiting scholar, and then he became director of Stanford laboratories. His impact on the Stanford program was substantial, and even after his official retirement, he continues to participate actively in department affairs. For his solid place in UCLA history, Lu Valle is currently the subject of a UCLA oral history. Many years ago, as the class of 1935 prepared to graduate, a fellow student wrote prophetically, “Jimmy Lu Valle has brought honor to the University, and UCLA will not soon forget his attainments.”

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