U.C. Davis history professor, 61

Paul Goodman, a professor emeritus of history at U.C. Davis who in the 1980s developed a new course on the Holocaust, died Friday of last week at his El Cerrito home. He was 61 and died of complications from lung cancer.

A graduate of Cornell and Harvard, he taught at Brooklyn College for three years before joining the U.C. Davis staff in 1965.

At Davis, he taught several courses, including a three-quarter series on American political history.

He also published numerous articles and two books. Publication of a third book, which Goodman worked on while battling with cancer, is expected soon.

For his Holocaust course, titled "Why the Holocaust?" Goodman took the time to interview every one of his 150-plus students personally.

"He arranged a 15-minute interview in which he asked each student why they were taking the course and got them to talk about their own lives," recalled Ted Margadant, chair of U.C. Davis' history department.

Margadant described Goodman as an inspiring and dedicated teacher who encouraged his students to reach their full potential.

"He was a very demanding teacher," Margadant said. "He pushed students to always do their very best, to stretch."

Last year, Goodman established an endowed chair in Jewish studies at U.C. Davis. The first endowed chair in the university's College of Letters and Science, it is named after Emanuel Ringelbaum, a Swiss Jewish historian who moved into the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II to record the struggle against Nazism. Goodman used Ringelbaum's memoirs, "Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto," in his course.

Goodman has no immediate surviving family.

Donations in his memory to support U.C. Davis history graduate students can be sent to the U.C. Regents, c/o Debbie Lyons, Department of History, U.C. Davis, Davis, CA 95616.

A memorial service is planned for 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5 at the University Club on the U.C. Davis campus.

Leslie Katz
Leslie Katz

Leslie Katz is the former culture editor at CNET and a former J. staff writer. Follow her on Twitter @lesatnews.