Family, friends, colleagues and former students are mourning the passing of distinguished Prof. Emeritus Frederick I. Kersten, the senior member of UW-Green Bay’s “first family of professors” and a dedicated advocate for interdisciplinary education. He died Sunday (Dec. 16) at age 81.
He is survived by his two sons, Andrew and Stephen, as well as his second wife, Karen. Arrangements for a possible memorial service are pending, and will be announced at a future date in the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Fred Kersten retired from the University and was awarded the title “emeritus” in 1995. He was a philosophy and humanities scholar who was an early recipient of the Frankenthal Professorship (1984-88) and the Founders Association Award for Excellence in Scholarship (1980).
Raised in Appleton, he earned his bachelor’s degree at Lawrence University and went on to receive master’s and doctoral degrees from the New School for Social Research in New York. He left a tenured position at the University of Montana to join the faculty of the new UW-Green Bay in 1969.
Kersten was a prolific writer of book chapters, scholarly papers and reviews during his UW-Green Bay career. His research was published in journals including the Journal of the History of Philosophy, and the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. He served on the editorial boards for major academic journals and contributed content to the 1995 publication of the Encyclopedia of Phenomenology. He served as director of the Centre for Advanced Research in Phenomenology and as a trustee for the National Research Institute for Psychoanalysis and Psychology. His book Phenomenological Method: Theory and Practice was published in 1989.
In addition to his regular undergraduate course load at UW-Green Bay, Kersten was for many years a popular instructor in the Extended Degree distance-learning program. He was a frequent presenter at scholarly conferences, seminars and visiting lecture series at venues including Northwestern University, Tulane and UW-Madison, in communities across the United States and Canada.
Kersten’s first wife, Raquel, was also a UW-Green Bay faculty member, and the recipient of a Founders Association award and numerous honors. She was the face of UW-Green Bay’s Spanish and Latin American literature programs during the institution’s first two decades. She passed away in October 1988, at the age of 59.
The Kerstens’ son Andrew is a noted historian and author who joined the UW-Green Bay faculty in 1997. Andrew Kersten is the only four-time recipient of the Founders Association Award for Excellence, in recognition of his teaching, scholarship, community outreach and collaborative achievements. Earlier this year he joined UW-Green Bay’s academic administration as associate provost for academic affairs and director of graduate studies.
“My parents were consummate professionals, indefatigable scholars, incredible teachers, caring student mentors, and devoted to the University and community,” Andrew Kersten once said in an interview with the UW-Green Bay institutional magazine. “I learned from both of them the importance and joys of teaching and research.”