On a Commencement day when we come together to celebrate a new generation that becomes part of Columbia’s great intellectual tradition, I am sad to report that our university community has lost one of the towering exemplars of that tradition, former Provost and longtime history professor Fritz Stern ’46CC, ’53GSAS.
For decades, Fritz Stern was among Columbia’s most eminent faculty, and everything he did, as a scholar, teacher, and public intellectual, defined what it means to be each of those things. As a child in a family forced to flee Nazi Germany in the 1930s, he made his way from Jackson Heights to Columbia for college and graduate school, where he became a pioneering historian on the rise of German National Socialism. He won honors for his great teaching and prizes for his acclaimed books; he was rightly awarded our highest academic ranks, as both the Seth Low Professor of History chair and University Professor.
We mourn the loss of Fritz Stern and send our deepest condolences to his dear Elisabeth, friend to so many of us, and their family.