Emeritus Physics Professor, Kurt Haller, Dies At 75
Kurt Haller, emeritus professor of physics, died on May 5. He was 75. Haller had been a member of the physics department for 40 years.
"Kurt Haller was a man of great generosity of spirit, a man totally dedicated to his profession of physics, and a man of the highest intellectual integrity," wrote professors of physics Gerald Dunne, Munir Islam, and Philip Mannheim in a tribute. "His long and productive career brought him the friendship, respect, and recognition of his students and of colleagues around the world. His wisdom, collegiality, perspective, and abiding commitment to his profession and his home institution will be sorely missed."
Haller was born in Vienna, Austria, and came to the United States at the age of 10, leaving behind the violence and terror that prevailed in Austria during the 1930's. His mentor, an aunt who was a physician, steered him to Columbia College, where he earned his A.B. degree in 1949.
He completed his graduate studies at Columbia University and received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics in 1958. After a two-year postdoctoral research appointment at Washington University, St. Louis, he joined the faculty at New York University. He came to UConn in 1964.
Haller's research earned him many distinctions and honors. In 1973-4, he was a Fulbright-Hays Visiting Professor in Austria at the Institut fYr Theoretische Physik, UniversitSt Graz. In 1978, he was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society, which cited his fundamental work on the consistent quantization of gauge theories. He was also the principal investigator on a project in theoretical elementary particle physics, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, which supported his research continuously from 1978.
On the occasion of Haller's 70th birthday, 28 physicists from around the world contributed scientific articles dedicated to him in a festschrift published as a special three-volume issue of the journal Foundations of Physics. About the same time, Haller was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa honor society, in recognition of high attainments in liberal scholarship. When he retired in 2003, the University designated him a Research Professor.
Haller established UConn's particle physics research group. The group organized the 1988 meeting of the Division of Particles and Fields of the American Physical Society, in which Haller, as chair of the organizing committee, played a pivotal role. The 900-page conference proceedings were published by World Scientific in 1989.
In addition to his fundamental research in theoretical particle physics, Haller was active in the academic life of the University. He served as acting head of the physics department on three separate occasions. He also was energetic in developing and strengthening the University's graduate education and research program, as associate department head for graduate education and research in the physics department. Haller was a respected teacher and a devoted mentor to graduate students, many of whom have gone on to successful careers in physics or other fields.
He served the University on many committees, in the physics department, in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and University-wide. He served two three-year terms on the University Senate and was a long-standing member of the Graduate Faculty Council.
Haller is survived by his wife Lottie and sons Paul and Geoffrey. Contributions in his memory may be made to the endowment for physics research and graduate education in honor of Professor Kurt Haller, and sent to: the UConn Foundation, 2390 Alumni Drive, Unit 3206, Storrs, CT 06269.