Rosenberg had huge impact at Pitt over 64 years here

Jerome “Jerry” Rosenberg, who served 64 years as a Pitt faculty member and administrator — organizing disparate departments into the School of Arts and Sciences as its dean, founding the Jewish Studies program, establishing Pitt’s program of research integrity oversight — died June 12, 2021 at 99.

“Jerry shaped the minds of generations of young scholars, leaving an indelible mark on society,” the University said in a statement.

Former Chancellor Mark Nordenberg was School of Law dean when Rosenberg, then vice provost, “reinvented himself,” Nordenberg recalled, “becoming Pitt’s chief research integrity officer, which includes many lawyer-like responsibilities, without the need for further formal education.”

He called Rosenberg “an inspiration … He loved being a part of the University community, and regularly could be seen enjoying conversations with colleagues. He also made determined, and obviously successful, efforts to maintain his health, regularly walking to campus from his home and playing tennis well into his later years. In many ways and over so many years, Jerry provided an inspiring example to many of the rest of us.”

“He was always a scholar and a gentleman,” said John Cooper, the most recent former dean of the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences. “He had a really deep integrity and a great knowledge across a huge breadth of areas.”

Cooper remembered Rosenberg as “extraordinary” in his ability to advise Cooper on research issues. “He was somebody who had impact as an intellectual leader as well as an academic. And he was just a tremendous person.”

Cooper credits Rosenberg as “really the person who created the school” from separate divisions of the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, and helped to drive the creation of the general education requirements.

Rosenberg began his Pitt career in 1953 as a faculty member in chemistry, and through the years chaired the new microbiology and biophysics departments.

He served as vice president of the University Senate in the 1960s and was named acting dean of the faculty of arts and sciences in 1969, soon taking the job full time until 1986. He was vice provost until 1989 and in 2003 became the first chair of Pitt’s Conflict of Interest Committee, creating the Conflict of Interest Office, which oversees conflict disclosures and compliance throughout the entire University.

He also was central to the establishment of the Israel Heritage Room among the Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning.

“He had in his office a rather large, about 10 inches tall, hourglass,” Cooper recalled. Rosenberg would turn over the hourglass at the beginning of a meeting, “and people knew that was how much time they had. He had a very dry sense of humor.”

Born June 20, 1921, and raised in Harrisburg, he earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1941 from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., and a master’s degree from Columbia in 1944. While pursuing his doctorate there, he was recruited to join the Manhattan Project — the secret laboratory developing the first atomic bombs.

Finally earning his doctorate at Columbia in 1948, he helped found the biophysics department at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and then became a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago.

He is survived by his children, Judith and Jonathan, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

— Marty Levine