Adolf Grünbaum ’44

I attended Wesleyan while Victor Butterfield was President. Unfortunately, a time during which, in the valuation of liberal education, the ethos of Wesleyan, as well as other liberal arts colleges, tended to subordinate the scientific, rationalistic way of thought to nonrational modes popular in the humanities. Many professors and intellectuals of the day saw science as the greatest threat to the humanities. While Butterfield was one of the principal purveyors of the “cult” downgrading science ideologically, I always remain grateful to him for having granted me a freshman scholarship that allowed me to graduate with a double major in mathematics and philosophy, and receive high honors and high distinction in both, for my honors thesis on Fourier series, and comprehensive exam. Even though I was in the minority at Wesleyan as a supporter of mathematics and the sciences, I had some great teachers whom I cherished immensely and with whom I maintained warm relations for the rest of their lives. 

I recently received the Federal Cross of Merit, First Class from the Federal Republic of Germany and an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Cologne. Oxford University Press in New York just published the first of three volumes of my Collected Works. While in some respects my life at Wesleyan was occasionally alienating, it was also gratifying and profoundly formative, both intellectually and emotionally, and has contributed to my success today.