April 10, 1999
this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Freda/Antonoff.htm
by Marvin M. Antonoff
I want to express my sincerest condolences to George, Amy and Erica Salzman and to the relatives who mourn the loss of Freda Salzman.
It was nearly 16 years ago that I first met Freda Salzman. It was in the spring of 1965, a few months before U.Mass/Boston opened its doors to its first entering class.
As I recall, our hopes for the University were as fully in bloom as lilacs in May and the three of us met often that spring and summer to prepare for the school's opening in September. We carefully considered and decided upon the courses which we would offer and then searched for and selected the texts. We recruited a fourth faculty member, Claire Metz, a one-year visitor from CCNY [College of the City of NY]. Then we began to prepare a list of books and periodicals that would comprise the library's first acquisitions in physics. It was a busy and exciting time, that summer before September when our appointments officially began.
No one worked harder than Freda that summer. She sketched out a curriculum plan that helped us decide on our first course offerings. She participated in the recruitment process and she began the extensive task of preparing the book order forms for the library acquisitions. Last week Amy Salzman told me that one of her vivid recollections is that of Freda working at home on the library card file and the purchase order forms for the books that were the first in the physics collection.
By the beginning of September we were ready to teach our first classes, although the rather extensive renovations at 100 Arlington Street were still underway. There seemed to be dust and debris everywhere. But the adverse physical conditions couldn't lower our high spirits. We were starting a University for which we had high hopes and great dreams. For Freda it was her first faculty position and she was brimming with eager (perhaps nervous) anticipation.
Hardly a day passed when we would not see each other. Freda and George and I would have lunch together or have coffee at Silvio's greasy-spoon diner. We met often to talk about course matters or departmental business. And I came to know of Freda's warmth and of her sensitivity to others. I was a junior faculty member at that time but Freda would not have me excluded from participating in any phase of the department's work. She always wanted to know my views. The functioning of our department was totally democratic -- decisions were reached only after full discussions and usually by consensus. I came to recognize and to appreciate Freda's gentleness, her consideration for others and her commitment to democratic ideals and human values.
In the years that followed Freda contributed to the growth and development of the University and of the Physics Department. She served on the first Faculty Senate and on the Divisional Executive Committee. She continued her work on library development by serving on the University Library Committee. And within the department her most important contributions were in the areas of faculty recruitment and curriculum development. Freda served for many years on the departmental Academic Affairs Committee where she participated in planning and shaping the program in physics. She personally wrote much of the material that currently appears in the physics section of the University Catalog, including the descriptions of the courses and the programs for majors. Freda's ideas and wise counsel helped to guide that Committee's way.
In 1968, after 3 years of dedicated service to the University, the departmental recommendation for Freda's reappointment was unjustly rejected by the administration. It was the start of a terrible period in Freda's life and for the next three and one-half years Freda struggled to regain the position that the administration had denied her. Throughout that struggle Freda demonstrated her great strength of character, her tremendous courage and her vast dignity. In 1972 she won her long battle and was reinstated to her position in the Physics Department.
Her professional work in Physics was primarily in the areas of elementary particle physics and general relativity, and primarily in collaboration with George Salzman. I hope other participants in today's memorial to Freda will comment on the impact of her work, but I would like to mention at this time the wide recognition which Freda and George received for their work and for Freda's last published work in general relativity concerning a problem on the frontier of current research on "black holes."
I believe my departmental colleagues will agree that Freda was a dedicated teacher and educator. In the classroom she demonstrated her love for physics and her concern for her students. She had, also, a deep commitment to public education. Freda herself had received her education in the public schools of Brooklyn, at Brooklyn College and the University of Illinois and she believed in the idea of public education for all.
Freda was a role model for women seeking careers in physics. Just as Freda had recieved encouragement from her teacher and friend Melba Phillips, an outstanding physicist who was forced to leave Brooklyn College during the McCarthy era and a woman who Freda greatly admired and often spoke of, so too did Freda help other women find careers in science.
In the last years of her life she demonstrated again her great strength of character. In her struggle against her illness she maintained courageous dignity.
Freda has left us a legacy:
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