Tuesday, October 28, 2008

UC Berkeley social sciences dean dies at home

ALBANY — Jon Gjerde, UC Berkeley's dean of social sciences, died Sunday at his Albany home. He was 55.

The death was unexpected, according to the university, which did not give a cause.

The Daily Californian student newspaper reported that he had a heart attack.

Gjerde joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1985 as a history professor, specializing in the American Midwest of the 19th and 20th centuries. He was named as dean last year.

"Jon Gjerde was a wonderful colleague, both as professor and dean, who inspired us all with his quiet and sure intelligence and his commitment to UC Berkeley," said Mark Richards, executive dean of the College of Letters and Science, in a written statement. "We will all miss him terribly."

The author of five books, Gjerde was close to finishing his third book on Catholic-Protestant political and cultural interaction in the United States in the nineteenth century.

He is survived by his wife, Ruth Gjerde, who works in the university's electrical-engineering and computer-science department, and two daughters.

Memorial contributions may be directed to the Jon and Ruth Gjerde Graduate Student Endowment, in the school's history department.

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