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Professor Emeritus remembered as brilliant scholar

Professor Emeritus remembered as brilliant scholar

Hofstra, as well as the scientific community, suffered a great loss with the passing of Professor Emeritus Kurt Salzinger on Thursday, Nov. 8. Salzinger passed away at age 89 after being hospitalized on Saturday, Oct. 27, due to injuries sustained when he was knocked down on the subway.

Salzinger was shoved to the ground on a subway platform by a fellow commuter at Penn Station and suffered a head injury that caused internal bleeding. He later developed pneumonia and succumbed to his injuries two weeks after the incident. Police are still investigating and searching for the commuter who pushed Salzinger.

A professor emeritus of psychology, Salzinger taught at Hofstra from 1992 until 2001 before becoming a senior scholar-in-residence in 2003. 

Outside of campus, he had served as the president of the New York Academy of Sciences and the American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology while also being on the board of directors for the American Psychological Association.

Salzinger’s research focused on behavioral analysis – particularly in humans, animals and patients suffering from schizophrenia. He also studied the verbal behavior of children and adults. He wrote 14 books and over 120 research articles as well as book chapters. 

The Austrian native was born in Vienna in 1929 and escaped in 1938 during the Nazi occupation of the country. 

He received his bachelor’s (1951), his master’s (1952) and his doctorate (1954) degrees from Columbia University. Prior to his tenure at Hofstra, Salzinger taught at Columbia, Polytechnic University of New York, Rutgers University and CUNY City College. 

He was awarded numerous honors during his life, including receiving the Sustained Superior Performance Award from the National Science Foundation and being named a Presidential Scholar for the Association for Behavior Analysis. 

The distinguished academic leaves behind his wife of 38 years, Dr. Deanna Chitayat, their six children and stepchildren along with four grandchildren.

“Dr. Salzinger was a valued member of the Hofstra community; a dedicated mentor and teacher; and an esteemed colleague,” Hofstra University said in a statement. 

“He helped build the University’s doctoral program in clinical psychology and continued to work with students even after he retired. We extend our deepest sympathies to his wife, Deanna Chitayat, a respected Hofstra professor, former dean and Hofstra presidential medal recipient, and his family.”

Dr. Craig Johnson, current chair of the Psychology Department, spoke to the University about Salzinger. “In my early days at Hofstra, I remember Kurt having a calming, supportive, steady voice in the department,” he said. “He was well-liked by his colleagues and a highly influential and respected scholar.”

The service for Salzinger was held on Sunday, Nov. 11, at Riverside Memorial Chapel in Manhattan. 

More than 100 people, including family and former colleagues, gathered to remember the decorated scholar’s life.


Information for this article was obtained from The New York Times and news.hofstra.edu.

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