Robert Rutman, professor emeritus of biochemistry in the School of Veterinary Medicine, died Monday, September 20, 2010, in Phoenix, AZ. He was 91.
Born in New York City, he received a BA from Penn State in 1940 and a PhD in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1950.
Dr. Rutman was a captain in the army during WWII, assigned to the Manhattan Project. He began his teaching career as an assistant professor at Thomas Jefferson University until he was fired in 1953 for alleged communist affiliations. Dr. Rutman told his family he was not a communist, but attended party meetings because of his interest in social issues.
An advocate for equality, Dr. Rutman organized “Teach-Ins” in opposition to the Vietnam War at Penn, Temple, and Swarthmore College. He was a regular contributor to Almanac’s Speaking Out column, offering opinions on topics such as racism, intellectual property and mentorship.
Dr. Rutman was a research associate in the department of zoology at Penn from 1954-56, and then was a senior research associate in the department of chemistry until 1961. That year, he was appointed associate professor in chemistry, with a joint appointment in the School of Arts and Sciences as a member of graduate groups in biochemistry, chemistry and molecular biology. He was appointed associate professor of biochemistry in the School of Veterinary Medicine in 1968, and full professor in 1969.
In 1973, he traveled to Africa, where he spent one year as a visiting professor at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
Dr. Rutman is survived by two daughters, Randy Cullen and Rose Rutman; stepchildren Stephen, Brian and David Johnson; and Ellen Kafalas and six grandchildren.