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  August 30, 2004

Emeritus Professor Fred Kort Dies At 85

Fred Kort, an emeritus professor of political science from Storrs, died July 17. He was 85.

Kort, who joined the University faculty in 1950, was known for his outstanding teaching and research. In 1964, students voted him best teacher on campus. He was among the first to apply mathematical techniques and the computer to the field of political science.

"Fred Kort was one of the giants of the political science department in its first 40 years," says Howard Reiter, current head of the political science department. "He was one of the pioneers of the application of quantitative methods to the study of political behavior, and especially to the behavior of judges. Until Fred came along, most people assumed that judges based their decisions on their reading of the law, and that they put aside any political, social, and psychological factors in their background. Fred showed that this was not the case."

Reiter adds that Kort's "smile, warmth, and tact added up to a style that graced our department."

During the 1970's and 1980's, Kort studied the biological underpinnings of political behavior. In 2003, he was recognized for his 50-year contribution to the American Political Science Association. He retired in 1990.

Born in Vienna, Austria, Kort grew up during the rise of Nazi power. He was a law student at the University of Vienna in 1938 when Jewish students were expelled. He immigrated to the United States in 1939, volunteered for the U.S. Army in 1942, and returned to Europe with the 11th Armored Division. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

Kort enrolled at Northwestern University in 1946, where he earned his bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D. degrees in four years.

A pianist who loved classical music, Kort was chairman of the UConn auditorium committee.

He is survived by Ruth, his wife of 58 years; his daughter Edith and her husband Mark; his son James and his wife Ina; and six grandchildren.

Contributions may be made in his memory to: Fred and Ruth Kort Young Scholars Fund at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, One Charles Center, 100 North Charles Street, Suite 200, Baltimore, MD 21201.