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January 11, 2018

Obituary: Donald Goldstein

Donald GoldsteinDonald Goldstein, professor emeritus in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) and co-author of two best-selling books on U.S. military history, “At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor” and “Miracle at Midway,” died Dec. 18, 2017.

Known as “Goldy” to his GSPIA colleagues, he spent 35 years at the University. He directed the Matthew B. Ridgway Center, which is focused on international security issues, established two endowments at GSPIA and was inducted into the Cathedral of Learning Society in recognition of his philanthropy to the University. GSPIA has honored Goldstein by presenting two faculty members with the Goldstein Outstanding Teacher Award each year.

Colleagues said that over the course of the more than three decades at GSPIA, Goldstein taught 259 courses and guided more than 3,700 students on tours of Washington, D.C.

Faculty member Phil Williams saw how effective a teacher Goldstein could be. “There was a larger-than-life quality to Don,” he remembered. “In many ways, I regard him as the soul of GSPIA. His door was always open for students. He was a tremendous teacher. I’ve never seen anyone else with the facility or the commitment. It was extraordinary. He motivated and inspired them and made them interested in international relations and international security.”

Williams recalled a student organization creating a bobblehead doll of Goldstein. “How many academics have a bobblehead?”

Williams continued: “He was this incredibly kind, generous and open person. There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for students. How he got his books done, with the amount of time he spent with students, is amazing. I’ve never seen a professor as loved as Don Goldstein was.”

“At Dawn We Slept” was first runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize in 1982. Alongside “Miracle at Midway,” he was the author or co-author of 19 other books. He donated his collection of World War II artifacts to GSPIA and his working papers to the University’s archive.

Noted Zach Brodt, University archivist: “Because Dr. Goldstein’s papers include copies of records from a variety of government and military archives, it is an easily accessible one-stop resource for researchers interested in a variety of aspects of the Second World War. The Goldstein papers serve as a great example of what a faculty member’s archival collection could look like because it consists of not only his research and professional correspondence, but also material relating to his teaching activities, which is what really made him so popular with students at Pitt.”

Born Dec. 15, 1932, he received his B.A. in 1954 and MA in 1961, both in history from the University of Maryland. He also earned M.S. degrees in political science from Georgetown University in 1963 and in public administration from George Washington University in 1965. In 1970, he was awarded his Ph.D. in history from Denver University. He was also a graduate of the Squadron Officer School, the U.S. Air Force Air Command and Staff College and the Air War College. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force.

After beginning his teaching career at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1965, Goldstein joined Pitt as a visiting lecturer in GSPIA in 1974, becoming a full professor in 1992. He also served as associate dean of GSPIA (1986-88) and director of placement and alumni for the school (1977-84). He had joint appointments in the Asian Studies and Eastern European Studies programs.

He is survived by his wife, Mariann; children Tammie, Tim, Tom and Teri; and sisters Blanche Bishop and Frances DeHaven. Donations are welcomed to the Donald Goldstein Teacher of the Year Award or The Donald Goldstein Scholarship Program at GSPIA.


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