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March 4, 2004

Obituary: Marshall R. Singer

Picture1Retired Pitt professor of international affairs Marshall R. Singer died Feb. 18, 2004, in Washington, D.C., after contracting hepatitis C. He was 71.

Singer came to Pitt in 1964 as professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA), a position he held until his retirement in 1998. Following retirement, he continued as an adjunct professor at American University.

Author of three books and more than 40 articles, Singer was a specialist in international political analysis, particularly in the developing world and on the relations between weak and powerful states; and in intercultural communication, a field he helped develop, according to friend and colleague Donald Goldstein, a professor at GSPIA.

“In his early days, he really was a pathfinder in intercultural communication,” helping found the Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research, the first professional organization in the field, Goldstein noted. “He was a kind man, everyone liked him and he was a very good teacher,” said Goldstein, who occasionally team-taught with Singer. “He was both scholarly and social, and he will be missed.”

At GSPIA Singer directed the international affairs program (1987-1990) and the International Corporate Environment Initiative (1987-1989), an effort to get local business people to study international political, economic, cultural and legal environments.

During his Pitt years, he also held visiting positions at Georgetown University School of Public Service (1982-1983), Columbia University Southern Asian Institute (1971) and the University of Malaya in Malaysia (1969-1971).

Prior to coming to Pitt, he was an assistant professor of political science at Brooklyn College and a visiting adjunct professor at Fordham University.

Singer consulted for the U.S. departments of state and commerce, the U.S. Information Agency, the Peace Corps and the Foreign Service Institute, among other governmental organizations, as well as for private industries, such as Mobay Corp., Westinghouse Electric and International Reporting Information Systems, and non-profits, including the Malaysian Society for Public Administration.

Internationally, he served as the president and vice chairman of the board for the U.S. Association for the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka (1983-1989), and chief administrative officer for a joint project of Pitt, the Ford Foundation and the University of Malaya (1971-1975).

Singer earned a B.A. from Brooklyn College in 1955, majoring in history and Russian studies; an M.A. from the New School for Social Research in 1956, and a Ph.D. at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1962.

Singer is survived by his sons, Paul B. and Shepherd L.; a daughter, Juma Attid; a sister, Lenore Zimmerman, five grandchildren and nieces and nephews.

The family requests that memorial contributions be made to Metro Teenaids (information at:

A memorial service is being planned at GSPIA.

—Peter Hart

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