Fred Lukermann, whose career at the University of Minnesota spanned nearly half a century, rising from undergraduate student to professor of geography to eventual dean of the College of Liberal Arts, died on Sept. 1. He was 87.
Lukermann’s most recognized contributions to the University included creating the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, and working to establish the departments of African American and African Studies, American Indian Studies, Chicano Studies and the urban studies program. He also helped start the School of Public Affairs, later renamed the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
Lukermann began his career at the University of Minnesota as a student in 1940. After earning his undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D. degrees in geography, Lukermann started as a faculty member in the department of geography in the early 1950s.
In 1978 he became dean of CLA, a position he held until his retirement in 1989.
John Wright , professor of African-American and African studies at the University, recalled the presence of the late dean.
“He was large in both body and soul,” Wright said. He described Lukermann as not just a manager, but a “stimulating” leader through direction.
Lukermann’s longtime friend and department of geography colleague John S. Adams described him as an inspiring teacher, generous advisor, and creative scholar in a prepared statement.
Adams said Lukermann had a lifelong interest in the geography of classical Greece and historical North America.
Lukermann’s passion to lead was evidenced through his many leadership and administrative roles while at the University. Lukermann served as chair of the department of geography and was assistant vice president for academic affairs during his tenure.
Before assuming his position as dean of CLA, Lukermann also led as associate dean of social sciences in the college.
Frederick Emil Lukermann, a Minneapolis native, was born on December 9, 1921. He graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1940 and served in the U.S. Army during his time as an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota.
Lukermann is preceded in death by his wife Barbara, who worked at the University for 26 years. He is survived by his daughters Carla Lukermann and Kathryn Plaisance .
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