10 July 2002 |

James Kettner
James H. Kettner, an early American history scholar and Berkeley faculty member for nearly 30 years, died of natural causes June 24 at the age of 57.

"James Kettner was a wonderful colleague and a warm and loving human being," said Jon Gjerde, chair of the Department of History. "He was a devoted teacher, a learned scholar, and a dedicated servant to his campus and department. Most of all, he was a friend whose gentle kindness was apparent to everyone he touched."

He joined Berkeley as a lecturer in 1973, after receiving his Ph.D. in history from Harvard, and worked his way up to full professor. He served for several years as vice chair of graduate studies in history and served for many years as acting chair of the department during the summer.

Friends and colleagues de-scribed him as a selfless, warm, thoughtful and quiet man who helped shaped the successful careers of many graduate students.

"He was graduate adviser probably for 15 years and kept his door open all day long," said history professor Robert Middlekauff, Kettner's longtime friend and colleague. "His office hours were from about 6:30 in the morning until he went home at night. He really believed in the study of history, he just believed powerfully in education, and he was genuinely fond of students and wanted to help them.

A memorial service for Kettner will be held on Monday, August 26, 2002 from 5-7 p.m. in the Toll Room at the Alumni House on the Berkeley Campus. For questions concerning donations in the memory of Kettner, please contact Chris Egan, manager, Department of History, at 510-642-2789 or

June Jordan
Colleagues, students and friends of June Jordan, award-winning poet, professor and activist, mourned her death on June 14 after battling cancer since the 1970s. She was 65.

A campus memorial service is tentatively scheduled for Sep-tember, said Charles Henry, professor and chair of African American studies. There will be no formal funeral service.

Jordan became one of the most published African American writers, known for reviving black English as a medium of black literature. Her published books include the autobiography "Soldier: A Poet’s Childhood" (1999), "Lyrical Campaigns: Selected Political Essays" (1989), and "Kissing God Goodbye" (1997). She and California political activist Angela Davis were the subjects of an English TV documentary, "A Place of Rage."

"She used black English in a way that brought out the poetry in American speech," said Zack Rogow, director of the Berkeley Lunch Poems series and one of Jordan’s longtime friends.

"I never knew anyone so fearless in defending what she believed in," said Charles Altieri, professor of English and director of the campus’s Consortium for the Arts.

Born in Harlem to parents who were immigrants from the West Indies — her mother a nurse, her father a postal worker — Jordan grew up in a Brooklyn, N.Y., ghetto. She attended Barnard College and the University of Chicago, but never earned a degree.

In 1966, she became a poet-in-residence at Teachers & Writers Collaborative and then taught on the English faculties at Connecticut and Sarah Lawrence colleges before joining the English department at Yale in 1974. She came to Berkeley as a lecturer in 1986 and taught in the departments of English, African American Studies and Women’s Studies.

Alexander Vucinich
Alexander Vucinich, a long-time research associate at what is now the UC Berkeley Slavic Institute, died at his Berkeley home on May 25 at the age of 87.

A specialist in the history of science in Russia and the Soviet Union, he was professor emeritus of the history and sociology of science at the University of Pennsylvania. He came to Berkeley as a research associate in 1985, after his retirement from Penn.

Born in Wilmington, Calif., to Serbian immigrant parents, he moved to Yugoslavia at the age of five and first came to Berkeley as a graduate student. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II.

His was on the faculty at San Jose State, the University of Illinois, and the University of Texas before his appointment at Penn in 1976.

Vucinich is the author of seven books on the history of Russian science and social thought. His two-volume study of "Science in Russian Culture" (1963, 1970), is considered a classic in its field. His other major works include a study of the Soviet Academy of Sciences and books on the impact and reception of the work of Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein on Russian thought and ideology.

A memorial service will be held at Berkeley’s Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies in the Geballe Room of Stephens Hall on July 21, beginning at 4 p.m.

Harvey Stahl
Longtime professor of medieval art and former chair of art history at Berkeley Harvey Stahl died on June 22 at the age of 61.

Stahl, who specialized in the history of medieval manuscript illumination and the Romanesque, Gothic and Later Byzantine periods of art, suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

He was considered one of the most knowledgeable historians of Latin Crusader culture and pursued multiculturalism in art and culture. Stahl was one of the first medieval art historians to address questions of women’s visual experience in the Middle Ages.

Stahl began his career working as a consultant to The Cloisters in New York from 1972-73 and as assistant curator for the Metro-politan Museum’s Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters from 1970-73. He served as an adjunct assistant professor at Parsons School of Design in New York and taught at Cooper Union College for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York and at Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y. He came to Berkeley to teach in 1980.

"As a scholar, he was meticulous and demanding - most of all of himself," said colleague Anne Wagner, professor of art history. "He brought to the department these same high standards of judgment, which helped to shape it, as well as an abiding love for art. He read broadly and deeply, and not only in medieval art."


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