Solomon Katz

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"In the entire century, there was no more firm supporter of the humanities and arts, so much so that it is impossible to think of the humanities and arts at the University of Washington without his name coming up."

--Leroy Searle, Director of the UW Center for the Humanities

In his 53 years at the UW, Solomon Katz served as instructor, professor, chair of the history department, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, provost, and vice president for academic affairs, in addition to being one of the UW's and the region's most beloved figures in the arts and humanities.

Katz was hired by the UW history department in 1936 as an instructor. He developed a special interest in the history of the late Roman Empire, or Byzantine history, and began offering courses in the subject in about 1940, making the UW one of the few places that offered such a course at the time.footnote 1 He authored many publications including a book entitled The Decline of Rome and the Rise of Medieval Europe, published in 1955. His research interests also led him to build up a Byzantine library at the UW.

Katz is remembered most of all for his tireless efforts over the years in support of the arts and humanities in the Northwest. He served as a member of numerous arts, civic, and educational boards, including PONCHO, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Symphony, and Lakeside School. He received the Seattle Mayor's Public Service Award in the Arts in 1978 and the University's Outstanding Public Service Award in 1983.

Upon his death in December of 1990, then President William P. Gerberding said Katz "embodied all of the most precious qualities of a university professor: vast erudition, eminent scholarship, distinguished teaching and, above all, a profound and touching humanity. Beyond that," he added, " Sol was a special and vibrant link to the broader community of culture and the arts in Seattle."

In 1978, the UW established the Solomon Katz Distinguished Lectureship Series in the Humanities. Later, an endowed professorship was created in his honor. These "are perhaps the most significant honors we bestow in the humanities within the College of Arts and Sciences," notes Leroy Searle, director of the UW Center for the Humanities, who adds that construction of the Solomon Katz Sculpture Court on the south side of the UW art building is currently nearing completion.

  1. "Sol Power," Schuyler Ingle, the Weekly, Nov. 30, 1983, p. 36. Solomon KatzPhoto by James O. Sneddon

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