Herman Sinaiko (A.B. ’47, Ph.D. ’61), a 55-year Humanities professor in the College, whose time at the University spanned the majority of his life, passed away Sunday in Hyde Park from lung cancer. He was 82.
Sinaiko was known for his presence in the Core curriculum, where he focused on engaging students with various types of texts. An advocate for the improvement of mental health care and residential facilities for students, he was also a passionate supporter of student involvement in the arts, helping to establish the student-run University Theater Committee.
“Herman Sinaiko will rank as one of the greatest teachers in the history of the College,” Dean of the College John Boyer said. “Herman’s love of the College and our students was legendary.”
Sinaiko’s dedication to the liberal arts education led him to develop the University of Chicago Great Books Institute, an endeavor to improve community college education and give minority and first-generation students resources and materials used in the Core.
“The Common Core is at the heart of this institution…A Core course is not just an introduction to a body of material, but rather learning the best way to look at literature,” he said, in an interview for the University of Chicago Chronicle published on May 26, 1994.
A recipient of multiple teaching awards, including the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Undergraduate Teaching in 1963, the Amoco Award in 1994 and the Norman Maclean Faculty Award in 2003, courses Sinaiko taught in the past include “Greek Thought and Literature” and “Human Being and Citizen.” He was slated to teach “The Organization of Knowledge” this Spring as part of the Big Problems program.
Sinaiko also served as Dean of Students from 1982 to 1986, and, during his tenure, was actively involved in student life.