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Charles J. A. Halberg, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Has Died


Charles J. A. Halberg, Jr., First Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Founding Mathematics Professor at UCR, died on June 1, aged 87

Internationally prominent mathematician studied functional analysis

(June 4, 2009)

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Charles J. A. Halberg, Jr., an emeritus professor of mathematics at the University of California, Riverside, passed away at home in Carlsbad on June 1, 2009. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.  (Photo was taken in the mid-1950s.)Enlarge

Charles J. A. Halberg, Jr., an emeritus professor of mathematics at the University of California, Riverside, passed away at home in Carlsbad on June 1, 2009. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications. (Photo was taken in the mid-1950s.)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Charles J. A. Halberg, Jr., an emeritus professor of mathematics at the University of California, Riverside, passed away at home in Carlsbad, Calif., on June 1, 2009. He was 87.

Halberg was among the first group of mathematics faculty to arrive at UCR. He was recruited by the first chair of the Division of Physical Sciences, Conway Pierce, in 1955, a year after the new campus was opened. Starting as an instructor, he rose through the ranks, achieving the rank of professor in 1968.

Active in campus affairs, Halberg was responsible for many innovations. He was the first vice chancellor for student affairs, from 1964 to 1965, and established “free speech” areas on campus during those tumultuous years. He also created the Casa Hispanica and was an early promoter of what was originally called the Men’s Faculty Club. Serving as president in 1964, he persuaded the membership to admit women—“Men’s” was dropped from the name—and to build a larger facility to replace the original Quonset hut headquarters. He was chair of the Board of Athletic Control during 1959-60, and was the original faculty advisor for the Big C Society, the lettermen’s club, from 1955 to 1961.

Halberg and his fellow faculty members—mostly men in their 30s—organized a long-running volleyball game that originally pitted students against faculty. As the faculty aged, however, the outcome became lopsided, and the teams were integrated. He also was a member of what was called the Wholesome Livers.

In addition to his years on campus, Halberg directed the University of California Scandinavian Study Center, located at Lund University in Sweden, from 1976 to 1978. He also had four sabbaticals at the University of Gothenburg. Halberg, as he said, “had heard Scandinavian spoken in my cradle,” and his second wife was Swedish. “I have a wonderful memory of those years” in Sweden, he said later.

His area of research was functional analysis, which he defined as “the study of abstract spaces and operators on those spaces,” and he wrote a number of articles on the subject. But his first love was teaching. Conway Pierce wrote that Halberg’s outstanding record as a teacher “is so well known [on the campus] that elaboration is not needed.” Halberg wrote or co-wrote a number of math textbooks at the beginning college level, and is credited with shaping the Department of Mathematics’ coursework to serve both nonmajors as well as majors.

Halberg was born in Pasadena, Calif., on Sept. 24, 1921, and grew up in Los Angeles and Carlsbad. He was educated at UC Berkeley and Pomona College, from which he received his B.A. summa cum laude in 1949. He earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from UCLA in 1953 and 1955, respectively. He was a member of Kappa Mu Upsilon and Pi Mu Epsilon, national mathematics honoraries; Phi Beta Kappa; Sigma Xi; as well as the Mathematics Association of America, the American Mathematical Society, and the Svenska Matematikersamfundet.

Memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society. A private memorial service will be held later in the summer.

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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