Alfred Sussman

Alfred Sussman, who served as a professor, dean, and vice president during a 40-year career at the University of Michigan, died Nov. 19 at the U-M Hospital in Ann Arbor. He was 82.

When Sussman received the U-M’s Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award in 1972, he was praised as a “model of all that is best in academic life.” During his years at the University, Sussman rose from an instructor in botany to become dean of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies from 1974 to 1985. In addition, Sussman was interim vice president for Academic Affairs and interim vice president of Graduate Studies and Research at the University. He served as chairman of the Department of Botany from 1963 to 1968, associate dean of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts and acting LS&A dean in 1970–71. He retired in 1990 as professor emeritus. Despite his many years in administration, he possessed a lifetime love of teaching and maintained contact throughout his life with his students.

Born July 4, 1919, in Portsmouth, Va., Sussman grew up in New York City and graduated from Eastern District High School in 1935. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Connecticut in 1941. He received a Master of Arts degree in botany in 1948 from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1949.

During World War II, Sussman served for three years in the medical corps, rising from private to captain. He served in Germany, Austria, France and the Philippines.

At the University of Michigan, he authored numerous books and research papers. His research into dormancy and the control over enzyme synthesis in the pink bread mold neurospora was supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society.

Sussman was preceded in death by his wife of 48 years, Selma. He is survived by his second wife, Eleanor; daughter Jean; sons Paul and Harold; sister Evelyn Feit, and four grandchildren. Burial was at the Arborcrest Cemetery in Ann Arbor.

The family suggests memorial donations to:

  • The Alfred Sussman Fund, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, 915 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104.

  • University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center—Development Office, 1500 E. Medical Center Dr., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0759

  • Congregation Beth Israel, 2000 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48104

    —Submitted by the family

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