by Kate Tyler
Genevieve Zito Berkhofer
Genevieve Zito Berkhofer, a Ph.D. alumna, died of brain cancer in January in Davis, Calif. Born in New York City in 1931, Berkhofer earned a B.A. in American history from Hunter College and an M.A. from Smith College. Her 1953 M.A. thesis focused on American political and economic conditions during the Great Depression. Berkhofer enrolled at the University of Minnesota to pursue advanced study of history, and from 1955 to 1963 she taught history at the U’s Laboratory School, where former students remember her as a creative and inspiring instructor. She also supervised over 200 student teachers and developed social studies materials for elementary and high school students as part of Project Social Studies, a federally funded initiative.
In the 1970s, Berkhofer taught at community colleges in Madison, Wisc., and Ann Arbor, Mich., and was selections editor for a series of publications on women’s history. From 1977 to 1984, she taught pioneering courses on women’s history at the University of Michigan, Flint. Later, for the University of Michigan School of Education, she coordinated a novel interactive project that brought a “virtual” U.S. Constitutional Convention to classrooms worldwide. She moved to Santa Cruz, Calif., with her husband, the noted historian Robert F. Berkhofer Jr., who survives her, as does a son, Robert F. Berkhofer III, also a historian.
Kermit L. Hall
Kermit L. Hall, a 1972 Ph.D. graduate in history, died at the age of 61 in August 2006 after suffering a heart attack while swimming in Hilton Head, S.C. He was a well-regarded scholar of U.S. legal history and a leader in American higher education. Since February 2005, he had been president of the State University of New York at Albany. A prolific scholar, he was the author or editor of 27 books, including The Magic Mirror: Law in American History and the much-honored Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States.
A native of Akron, Ohio, Hall earned a B.A. from the University of Akron and master’s degrees from Syracuse University and Yale Law School. He also served as a U.S. Army captain in Vietnam. In his Ph.D. studies at Minnesota, he focused on constitutional history, working closely with Professor Paul Murphy. He went on to hold academic and administrative positions including executive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio State University, provost at North Carolina State University, and president of Utah State University. Lauded by New York Gov. George Pataki for his “tremendous passion, energy, and vitality,” Hall was an engaged and influential public intellectual who lectured widely and took on high-profile leadership roles. In 1999 he received the James Madison Award from the American Library Association for his service on the U.S. presidential committee reviewing the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He is survived by his wife, Phyllis Hall.
Otto Pflanze, a former professor of history, died in March at his home in Bloomington, Ind. An internationally recognized historian of 19th-century Germany, Pflanze earned his Ph.D. at Yale University in 1950 and joined the University of Minnesota faculty in 1961. He had decided to become a scholar of German history after viewing photos in Life magazine of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz. “I wanted to look into the origins of this,” he said in a 1998 interview, “to find out how this catastrophe could have come about.” He went on to produce a three-volume study of Otto von Bismarck, the creator of the modern German empire. Acclaimed for its sweep and its political and psychological insights, Pflanze’s Bismarck and the Development of Germany remains the definitive work on the subject.
Pflanze was born in Maryville, Tennessee, in 1918. He earned his B.A. from Maryville College and served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, stationed in Guam. In the late 1940s, he worked in Germany as a historian for the U.S. State Department. He was at Minnesota until 1977, and then a professor at Indiana University, where he edited the American Historical Review from 1977–85. From there he went to Bard College, where he was the Stevenson Professor of Social Studies until his retirement in 1992. Over the years, he received many honors, including Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships. He is survived by his wife, Hertha Maria Haberlander Pflanze, three children, and two grandchildren.