In Memoriam — Henry Hilgard

To: Campus Community

From: Barry Bowman, Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology

henry hilgard

Henry Hilgard, professor emeritus of biology, died unexpectedly from cardiac arrest on April 13, 2013. He was among the first group of biology department faculty at UC Santa Cruz, arriving in Santa Cruz in 1967 with his wife, Galen, and their three young daughters.

Henry was an outstanding teacher, winning the UCSC Alumni Association's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1995. His immunology course was perhaps the most popular course in the biology department. He also played a key role in the initiation of several biology courses for non-majors, such as "Cardiovascular Disease and Health," and "AIDS: Perspectives on an Epidemic." Henry enjoyed serving on the premedical advisory committee at UCSC, and he had great admiration for his students, many of whom went on to become physicians, biologists, and science writers. He served as chair of biology at UCSC from 1989 to 1992, becoming emeritus in 1994.

Born and raised in Palo Alto, Henry was the son of Josephine Rohrs Hilgard and Ernest R. Hilgard, professors at Stanford University. He received his undergraduate degree at Harvard University, his M.D. at Stanford University, and having developed a strong interest in research and teaching, he subsequently earned a Ph.D. in microbiology at the University of Minnesota. An exciting pre-doctoral stint working in Australia with immunologist and Nobel laureate Sir Frank Macfarlane-Burnet was pivotal in Henry's science career. His research was focused on understanding the mechanism by which animals recognize and reject transplanted tissue or organs, a phenomenon called the graft versus host response.

From 1968 to 1970, Henry took a leave from UCSC and served as Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy, working as a scientist in Bethesda, Maryland, and San Francisco, California. Even before coming to UCSC he had been selected as an "Established Investigator"  by the American Heart Association. He continued with that support when he returned to UCSC. Henry co-authored a book, The Biology of People, with Sam Singer (published by W.H. Freeman and Company, San Francisco, in 1978.)

Henry was always an upbeat, engaging person with a  great sense of humor. He loved synthesizing complex information and presenting his knowledge in a unique and clear way. In his retirement he was an avid numismatist and an international expert specializing in coins with errors. He deeply enjoyed sharing ideas with colleagues, friends, and family whether the topic related to history, science, medicine, numismatics, or life.

A celebration of Henry's life will be held on Saturday, July 6, at 2 p.m. at the First Congregational Church, 900 High Street, in Santa Cruz.

For more information, please see the obituary in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.