The department is deeply saddened by the passing of Adolf Grünbaum, who spent most of his career at the University of Pittsburgh. Here we've collected some stories and remembrances of Adolf as teacher, colleague, and friend.
Adolf Grünbaum was one of the leading figures in the renovation of
the University of Pittsburgh’s Philosophy Department. At the start of the
1960s he and his Lehigh University colleague Nicholas Rescher came to
the University and they collaborated in recruiting Kurt Baier from the
Australian National University to chair Pitt’s Philosophy Department.
When the Yale department collapsed in the early 1960s the then Provost
Charles Peake authorized the Pitt philosophers to seize the opportunity
and at this point Alan Ross Anderson, Nuel Belnap, Jerome Schneewind
and Wilfrid Sellars all moved from Yale to Pitt, in short order making Pitt
one of the premier philosophy departments in the country. At the same
time Pitt also launched its Center for Philosophy of Science with
Grünbaum as its Chairman and Nicholas Rescher its Vice Chairman.
Grünbaum’s energy and enthusiasm greatly facilitated this planting of
acorns from which mighty oaks were to develop in the subsequent
Those who only knew Adolf later in life may be surprised to learn
that is his earlier years he had a jocular and jesting side. At Lehigh in the
mid-1950s he belonged to a small group of colleagues who enjoyed
playing pranks on their friend Preston Parr, the amiable Dean of
Students. At one point they faked a memorandum from his office to all
campus fraternities requiring them to present their mascot dogs at his
office at a certain time for identification and licensing. At the appointed
hour, the dean’s office was a pandemonium of howling canines—to the
vast amusement of all concerned, ultimately including the dean himself.
Adolf, the early prankster, was not always the serious Herr Professor he