Professor Emeritus Jerry Dimitman, one of the pillars of the biological sciences department, died Dec. 14 at the age of 91. He taught at Cal Poly Pomona for 35 years and was the second person to serve as department chair. He retired in 1983.
During his 12 years as department chair, Dimitman helped establish the university¿s first master¿s degree program in biological sciences. He also mentored students in biology and in agriculture, preparing them for graduate and doctoral programs.
¿He was really very dynamic in his leadership of the department,¿ says Professor Emeritus Glenn Stewart, who was hired by Dimitman in 1963. ¿We made great strides during that period, adding new faculty, new programs. Dr. Dimitman loved the department, loved being in service as the chair. He really stood up for the needs of the department and looked out for us.¿
Professor Emeritus Laszlo Szijj says Dimitman got to know each faculty member¿s professional interests and assigned courses and tasks accordingly.
¿He very carefully shaped the program to the personalities and the academic background of each of his employees. The department became a very smooth-running and friendly and effective organization,¿ Szijj says.
Dimitman was known to help colleagues with personal matters. When Szijj was hired 1963, his work visa hadn¿t arrived when the school year began. Dimitman asked Immigration and Naturalization Service for permission for Szijj, a Canadian, to begin teaching on time.
¿He took time to help me settle at Cal Poly Pomona,¿ Szijj says. ¿He was a wonderful man ¿ totally dedicated and multitalented.¿
Dimitman helped establish and served on the Faculty Senate. He was also the Cal Poly Pomona nominee for the 1972 Outstanding Professor Award for the CSU.
An expert in plant pathology, Dimitman researched fruit crops and their diseases and collaborated with faculty in the College of Agriculture. Fruits were also a hobby, and he often brought in exotic varieties for faculty and students to sample and discuss their characteristics.
In his retirement, Dimitman grew rare varieties of Asian fruits, such as pummelos, lychees, longans, wampi and mandarins, and sold them at the Alhambra farmers market. The Los Angeles Times often featured his fruits, including the Wong variety of the pummelo, which is his most successful and is named after his late friend Ben Wong.
A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at Custer Christiansen Mortuary in Covina.