Harry Woolf (1923–2003)

Harry Woolf, the Director of the Institute for Advanced Study from 1976-87 and subsequently Professor-at-Large at the Institute, died at his home in Princeton on January 6, 2003.

Harry Woolf was born in New York City on August 12, 1923. After serving with the United States Army in World War II and receiving three Bronze Stars, he obtained B.A. (1948) and M.A. (1949) degrees from the University of Chicago in the fields of mathematics, physics, and history; and his Ph.D. (1955) from Cornell University in the history of science.

From 1953-1976, Dr. Woolf taught physics and the history of science at Boston University, Brandeis University, the University of Washington, and, finally, The Johns Hopkins University, where he was the Willis K. Shepard professor of the history of science from 1961-1976, and department chairman from 1961-1972. Dr. Woolf also served as visiting professor to universities in India (1961) and six West African (1971) countries.

From 1972-1976, Dr. Woolf was Provost of The Johns Hopkins University, serving during a period of academic reorganization that required shared duties with the university president. At the time of his departure, President Steven Muller said: "The Johns Hopkins University and I personally will find Harry Woolf irreplaceable . . . He is a scholar and gentleman of rare talent and charm." In 1976, he was appointed Director of the Institute for Advanced Study, stepping down in 1987 to become Professor-at-Large, and in 1994, Professor-at-Large Emeritus. Under Dr. Woolf's direction, the Institute achieved significant growth and development in all directions, including a substantial increase in the endowment of the Institute, notable changes in the presence of computer technology in academic research, and the establishment of the Institute archives.

Dr. Woolf was the author of The Transits of Venus: A Study of Eighteenth-Century Science (1959). He was also the editor of Quantification: A History of the Meaning of Measurement in the Natural & Social Sciences (ed., 1961); Science as a Cultural Force, (ed. and intro., 1964); the sixteen-volume Dictionary of Scientific Biography (assoc. ed., 1964-1980); Some Strangeness in the Proportion: A Centennial Symposium to Celebrate the Achievements of Albert Einstein (ed. and contrib., 1980); The Analytic Spirit, Essays in the History of Science (ed., 1981); and The Sources of Science (ed., 1964-1993).

From 1958-1964 , Dr. Woolf was editor of ISIS: An International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences. In addition, he served on the editorial boards for Source Books in the History of the Sciences (1960-1983); the Interdisciplinary Science Review (1975- ); and The Writings of Albert Einstein (1977- ). From 1989-1993, he served on the publications committee of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung Medal in 1990, Dr. Woolf was a fellow of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was awarded honorary degrees from Whitman College (1979), American University (1982), The John Hopkins University (1983), and St. Lawrence University (1986).

Dr. Woolf served as President and Chairman of the Board, and for many years as a Trustee, of The Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics, Inc. (JHPIEGO). He also served on the advisory committees of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, public television's NOVA (WGBH-Boston), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Woolf was a member of the Board of Directors of Family Health International. His other most recent offices included the advisory boards of Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, Westmark International; as well as service as a trustee of Reed College, the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology, Advanced Technology Laboratories, Spacelabs Medical, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Dr. Woolf was a past member of the International Research and Exchanges Board and the Board of Governors of Tel-Aviv University. Dr. Woolf's association with Bankers Trust Alex. Brown (now Deutsche Asset Management) began in 1976; and from 1997-1999, he served as President of their Flag Funds.

Dr. Woolf's hobbies included cooking, skiing, sailing, and travel, which he pursued as long as possible despite the onset of Parkinson's disease. He is survived by his family: daughter Susan and her husband, Steve Price; son Alan and his wife Judith; son Aaron; daughter Sara; granddaughter, Alexandra Rosemary Price; and sister, Paula Woolf Shapiro.

A memorial service will be held on Friday, January 10 at 4:00 p.m. in Wolfensohn Hall on the campus of the Institute for Advanced Study, Einstein Drive, Princeton, N.J.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, 710 West 168th Street, New York, N.Y. 10032.

Arrangements are under the direction of the Alloway Funeral Home, 315 East Maple Avenue, Merchantville, N.J.