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Jerome Leo Sackman
In Memoriam

Jerome Leo Sackman

Professor of Engineering Science, Emeritus

UC Berkeley

Jerome Leo (Jerry) Sackman, professor emeritus of engineering science in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, died peacefully at his home in Berkeley on December 8, 2016. He was 87.

Jerry Sackman was born in Far Rockaway, Queens, New York on June 16, 1929. He was the fourth of four children born to Sarah Sackman and David Sackman. He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1947 and from the Cooper Union in 1951, with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Engineering. While at Cooper he met an art major named Sandra Gelberg, whom he married in 1951, and with whom he had a long and happy marriage until Sandy's death in 2011.

Following graduation he served as an engineer in the U.S. Air Force until 1954, with a rank of first lieutenant. Upon discharge he entered the graduate program in the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at Columbia University, attaining the degrees of Master of Science in 1955 and Doctor of Engineering Science in 1959.

Jerry's research at Columbia was in the field of wave propagation in elastic media, under the direction of Professor Hans H. Bleich. This remained one of his research interests throughout his career.

Following the completion of his doctoral studies and a year as assistant professor at Columbia, Jerry accepted a position in what was then the Division of Structural Engineering and Structural Mechanics in the Department of Civil Engineering at UC Berkeley. He was appointed as assistant professor in 1960, promoted to associate professor in 1962 and to full professor in 1966. His first sabbatical year, 1966–67, was spent at the Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago, where he helped develop the program in structural engineering.

Jerry served as full professor, first of civil engineering and then (from 1968) of engineering science, until 1991, when he retired under the first Very Early Retirement Incentive Program (VERIP). During sabbatical and summer leaves as professor he was variously active as research fellow at United Aircraft Research Laboratory, East Hartford, Connecticut, and as visiting professor at universities in Sweden and in Taiwan.

After retirement he served as a visiting scientist at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Washington, D.C., acting as the director of the Mechanics and Materials Program in NSF's new Division of Mechanical and Structural Systems.

Following his return to Berkeley in 1993, Jerry continued to engage in research in collaboration with his UCB colleague Armen Der Kiureghian, as well as to serve as consultant to Symplectic Engineering Company in Albany, California.

All in all, Jerry Sackman authored or coauthored over 200 technical publications, including about 125 peer-reviewed papers. He supervised 19 doctoral dissertations.

In 1996 he was awarded the Berkeley Citation for distinguished service to the university. The nomination noted that he "placed the welfare of the University, its students and his colleagues above all other considerations."

In 1992, in recognition of his "contributions to fundamental mechanics, novel applications to material identification, structural behavior and stability, and dynamic response of critical systems," Jerry was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. He also belonged to more than a dozen professional, technical and scientific societies, most notably the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), having been highly active in its Engineering Mechanics Division. In 1994 ASCE honored him with its highest award, the Nathan M. Newmark Medal, "for substantially strengthening the scientific base of structural engineering."

Besides his own manifold areas of research in engineering science, Jerry was deeply interested in many other fields of science, from subatomic physics to genetics, about which he read voraciously. He also had wide- ranging interest in history, politics, philosophy, literature and the arts – theater, classical music, museums – as well as sports.

Jerry is survived by his and Sandy's two daughters, Nancy and Hildy, and five grandchildren: Erica Cleary, Alex Sackman, and Fennis, Lily, and Phoebe Brown.

Jacob Lubliner
James M. Kelly
Karl S. Pister