Professor Emeritus Herbert Deresiewicz Dies
Herbert Deresiewicz, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering, died Sunday, June 8 after a long illness. Professor Deresiewicz spent more than four decades at Columbia SEAS, first as a student and later as a highly respected professor and three-time chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The funeral will take place at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, June 11th, at Gutterman and Musicant, Wien and Wien Memorial Chapels, 402 Park Street, Hackensack, NJ.
Professor Deresiewicz received an M.S. degree in civil engineering and engineering mechanics in 1948 and was awarded the Ph.D. degree in applied mechanics in 1952. He began his teaching career at Columbia SEAS in 1955 in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
He was highly regarded as a teacher and was a recipient of the Great Teacher Award of the Society of Columbia Graduates. His students reviewed him favorably in Columbia course guides during his decades of teaching. Among the comments: "Professor Deresiewicz's lectures are clear, precise, and imaginative as well as extremely well organized . . . the teacher par exellance." (Fall, 1977). "He's very willing to help . . . but you'd better be on the ball if you go see him" (Fall, 1978). "He is without doubt the best and most dynamic teacher in the department, organized, clear, relevant, obsessively accurate and informative." (Fall, 1986). His classes were described as a ton of work, but enjoyable and useful, too.
Professor Deresciewicz's son Bob recalled that his father loved Columbia and considered it a great privilege to spend his career there. "He loved the intellectual environment as well as the educational mission of the school," he said. "I remember his anger at the April, 1968, student-led campus take-over, which came right around the end of the semester (and final exams). He was not given to politics and he deeply resented the SDS' intrusion into the pursuit of the University's educational mission. He was all about firing passion for learning. He was deeply loyal to the school and proudly saw three children, his wife, and a grandchild all earn Columbia degrees."
Professor Deresiewicz was a major donor to the Kraft Center for Jewish Life at Columbia. He and his wife endowed the Center's collection of traditional Jewish biblical and rabbinic texts, which is now known as the Deresiewicz Collection. Professor Deresciewicz was predeceased by his wife of 47 years, Evelyn (nee Altman) in 2002. He is survived by his three children, Ms. Ellen Schwartz (wife of Mark Schwartz) of Englewood, NJ, Bob Deresiewicz (husband of Karen Pemstein Deresiewicz) of Newton, MA, and Bill Deresiewicz (husband of Aleeza Nussbaum) of Portland, OR, and by his four grandchildren, Jamie Schwartz (Yossie Horowitz), Daniel Schwartz, Hannah Deresiewicz, and Ellie Deresiewicz.
Posted:Jun. 10, 2008