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Sidney Fine, U-M professor, left his mark on history [View All]

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Bozita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-23-09 10:46 AM
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Sidney Fine, U-M professor, left his mark on history
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Sidney Fine, Ann Arbor
U-M professor left his mark on history
Mark Hicks / The Detroit News

Teaching for more than 50 years at the University of Michigan, Sidney Fine passionately combined insight and research to expand perceptions of history.

"He had a remarkable capacity to make it seem alive and fresh and important," said Raymond Grew, a U-M professor emeritus.

"He used details very effectively. ... It was that clarity and liveliness that stood out."

Professor Fine died on Tuesday, March 31, 2009. He was 88.

Born Oct. 11, 1920, in Cleveland, he earned a bachelor's degree in history from Case Western Reserve University. During World War II, he served as a Japanese-language interpreter in the Office of Naval Intelligence.

He earned his master's and doctoral degrees from U-M, where he began teaching in 1948.

Specializing in 20th century history, Professor Fine went on to teach more than 26,000 students during his career and became a department chairman, relatives and university associates said.

His lectures were so popular, students sometimes were forced to sit on the floor, said his wife, Jean. "He liked the interaction with the students. He was enthusiastic, very devoted. He enjoyed what he was doing every minute." Added Victor Lieberman, also a U-M history professor: "He always had a large enrollment. He was able to combine theoretical analysis with arresting anecdotes."


His career helped persuade state lawmakers to change the mandatory retirement age, 70, for tenured university professors, associates said, allowing him to retire in 2001.

"Sidney once told me about a father who came up to him after one of his lectures -- students frequently brought their parents to his classes -- to personally thank him for so significantly enriching the quality of the family's dinner conversations," said Michael Brooks, a longtime friend and executive director of the U-M Hillel. "He had a profound impact."



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