March 19, 1997
To my UC Santa Cruz colleagues:
It is with great sadness that I share news of the death of one of the legends of UC Santa Cruz. Siegfried "Sig" Berthold Puknat died March 17, in San Francisco, at age 83. A memorial service to honor his memory will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 12, at the Calvary Episcopal Church at 532 Center Street in Santa Cruz.
Professor Puknat came to UCSC in 1964, as the first full-time faculty member hired--and only the third academic employee after Dean McHenry and Page Smith. He retired in July 1982, leaving a permanent heritage of his creativity and dedication to academic excellence.
During his 18-year career at UCSC, Professor Puknat contributed significantly to the formation of the vision and unique spirit that characterizes the campus. He is described by colleagues as "a major influence on the shaping of the campus, involved in every aspect of planning." He was highly respected as an elder statesman of the campus who served effectively in an enormous range of roles in the Senate and administration.
Among many examples of his distinguished service to the campus are these few. He was Coordinator of Language Studies from 1964 through 1967. In 1965-66, he chaired the Santa Cruz Building Committee for College 4 (later named Merrill College). He was Vice Chancellor of Humanities and Chair of the Committee on Music from 1967 to 1970. He served as Provost of Crown College from 1977-82. Founding chair of UCSC's Literature Department (1965-67), Sig Puknat is credited with infusing the program with the concept of a unified cross-disciplinary program, rather than having a range of smaller programs focusing on various disciplines such as French, English, and German.
A leader in faculty governance, Professor Puknat was author of the original preliminary by-laws for the Santa Cruz Division of the Academic Senate. He was the UCSC representative to the UC Academic Senate from 1965 to 1967, and he presided as Chair of the UCSC Academic Senate for two terms, from 1975 through 1977.
A Professor of German and Comparative Literature, Sig Puknat researched and published in the fields of modern German literature and American-German literary relations. Prior to his arrival at UC Santa Cruz, he taught at UC Davis, where he was Chair of the Foreign Language Department and Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Letters. He also had been affiliated with Beloit College and Carleton College, and he was active in many prestigious professional associations.
Professor Puknat earned his B.A. in German and French from UCLA; an M.A. in French from UC Berkeley; and a Ph.D. in German from the University of Minnesota.
Sig Puknat and his wife Elisabeth lived in Santa Cruz until her death in 1972. He remained here until last year, when he moved to San Francisco. The couple had no children.
Although it is sad for the campus to lose such a great inspiration--and for many to lose a much-loved friend--let us pause to remember and honor his achievements.
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