Eulogy for Dr. Harry Rosenzweig

Harry and I have been close friends for 41 years. Since some of us have not been at this institution for that long, I would like to bring you up to date on Harry.

The things that immediately come to mind when I think of Harry are personal integrity, program integrity, devotion to teaching, to his students, to his department, to the liberal arts, to his institution, and to his family.

Harry joined a department which had just begun reevaluating its offerings with a view to strengthening them and making them more relevant. His prior experience at Haverford proved to be very helpful in that endeavor. In a short time, with his help, the program was upgraded to the point that soon every Western Maryland/McDaniel mathematics major who applied for jobs had several offers. NSA alone has hired 30-40 of them. Every one of them that applied to graduate school received fellowship/assistantship offers that covered tuition and living expenses. Harry’s students earned Ph.D’s in mathematics from Berkeley, Penn, UVA, UNC, NC State, U. of Washingtom, U of Arizona, and Va. Tech, to name a few.

Harry was advisor to the mathematics students who took the Putnam Exam, a competition exam open to all undergraduate mathematics students in the US and Canada.

He was also advisor for many years to Kappa Mu Epislon, our mathematics honorary society.

The Honors Program owes it existence to Harry’s efforts. He and Bob Sopora drafted a proposal for an honors program that passed unanimously, as I recall. Stephanie Madsen now has Harry’s notes to help in compiling a history of the honors program which just celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Harry was also one to speak up at faculty meetings about things that he viewed as injustices or that he thought would weaken the college’s offerings.

Harry served on the committee that oversaw the planning and construction of the library expansion.

He served on all the important faculty committees, including the FAC and the Curriculum Committee, and was for quite some time a faculty visitor to the board.

Harry was the driving force behind getting all traffic and parking removed from center campus on the top of the hill.

He served as chair of the Department of Mathematics for several years in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Harry hosted the annual departmental picnic at which the student winners of the Cross Award and the Duren Award were always announced.

Harry played basketball on the intramural faculty basketball team for several years. He was also an avid tennis player. He coached the Western Maryland College tennis team for a couple years, and was still playing regularly with Dan Williams until just recently. Harry was also university champ in table-tennis at the University of Arizona when he was a graduate student there. He schooled many of our overconfident students in table-tennis and is the reason there is a table-tennis table in the mathematics seminar room.

Perhaps the surest way to explain what Harry was about as a teacher is to read excerpts from letters his students wrote.

“During many conversations in the math department lounge, Harry promoted the ideal of the liberal arts: that the study of philosophy, literature, and mathematics leads to a fuller, more satisfying life. He encouraged me and others to study mathematics not with the goal of our becoming mathematicians, but in the belief that this abstract study was the optimal way for us to develop our minds.”



“His lectures would often go from the mathematical motivations of the lesson to the historical motivations.  We would discuss what problems mathematicians were facing through history, how solutions were found in disparate corners of the globe, and how regional strengths helped shape the timeline that the evolution of mathematical knowledge followed.  Beyond history, his lectures touched on literature, music, politics, and Americana.”


 “Dr. Rosenzweig is one of these individuals who has shaped the way that I approach teaching.  He taught me the following lessons: be over- prepared, care about your students, care about your subject matter, and care about how your students learn the subject matter.”


“I truly admire Professor Rosenzweig’s ability to push students to the limit. It is common for students to prefer professors that give easy homework assignments and tests. I would never classify one of Professor Rosenzweig’s courses as easy. He expects a lot out of his students because he is able to see their potential. He challenged me to go beyond my comfort zone and learn new things. I had to work really hard to do well in his classes. This opened my eyes to what I could achieve if I put forth the effort and has led me to strive for success in all aspects of my life.”


“I consider having had Dr. Rosenzweig as a professor a great gift. With his teaching and guidance, I discovered within myself a love and respect for the great art of mathematics. His influence was instrumental in my becoming a mathematics major, pursuing a master’s degree in mathematics, and ultimately teaching mathematics myself.”



“I am greatly grieved to hear this news concerning Dr. Rosenzweig’s

health.  He is without a doubt the most influential teacher that I have had and I know that I would not be the person I am today without his guidance and aid.  I hold him in the highest esteem and remember fondly the courses I took with him.  While I think every former student of his would agree that his classes were tough, I always found him personally to be extremely understanding, helpful, and compassionate.  


“I am writing you this letter so that I can make sure that you know the profound impact that you have had on my life. It goes without saying that I learned a great deal of mathematics from you, and in the process I learned a lot about the word “preparation.” Although these lessons have shaped the way I approach my discipline and are present in almost everything I do on a daily basis, these lessons were not the greatest influence that you had on my life. You made the greatest difference in my life by caring about my success and development.

The best tribute that I can give you is that I am trying to show the same care and teach the same respect for rigor to my students. I have supervised nine senior projects and one master’s thesis, and while I was working with these students a part of you was working with them as well.”


I hope this gives those of you who did not really know Harry a better sense of who he was and just how profound his impact has been on this institution and our students. He will be missed.


Thank you.