University of Michigan's Sidney Fine dies at 88

Historians in the News

Michigan has thousands of university professors who are erudite scholars with impressive credentials, big ideas and, in many cases, decent contracts for books or consulting. Yet almost none of them ever penetrate public consciousness and become well known outside of academia.

One prof who came close to becoming a public personality was Sidney Fine, the University of Michigan history professor who died last Tuesday in Ann Arbor. He was 88.

Fine was famous for several reasons.

He lectured for 53 years, considered a record at U-M, and the university figures he taught more than 26,000 students. He was an expert in modern American history, and when a Free Press reporter in 1990 dropped into his History 467 class — The United States since 1933 — she reported some 50 people sat on the floor because students had filled the auditorium’s 382 seats. Several seats in the rear were occupied by faculty spouses who were auditing the class.

Fine was also known as unusually approachable. His office was open for visits 5-6 hours a week, three times the amount of many professors.

“I pride myself on being available to students,” he once said.

Kevin Boyle, a professor at Ohio State University and prize-winning author, worked with Fine when Boyle completed his Ph.D in history at U-M.

“Students loved him not simply because he knew his subject inside and out, though of course he did. They loved him because he let them know – in everything that he did -- that he cared so much about his classes, cared so much for their education, and cared so much for them,” Boyle said....
Read entire article at Free Press

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