William H. “Bill” Hausdoerffer ’36, professor emeritus and former department chair of mathematics, former dean of men, TCNJ Athletic Hall of Fame member, Alumni Citation Award winner, and former Alumni Association Executive Board member, passed away from natural causes on February 5. He was 97 years old.
Hausdoerffer’s association with TCNJ as a student, alumnus, and faculty member stretched back nearly half of the institution’s existence. During that time, he took part in many of the College’s most significant events, attending nearly every Commencement from the 1940s until just a few years ago, participating in the College’s Centennial celebration in 1955, and lighting an Olympic-style cauldron to kick off the Sesquicentennial in 2004. His name adorns one of TCNJ’s newest buildings as well as a popular campus landmark, the Sundial, which he designed and donated.
As Peter Manetas, assistant vice president for development and alumni affairs, explained, Hausdoerffer’s “was a friendship that hundreds, if not thousands, shared.” News of his passing brought an outpouring of tributes.
“Bill was a true ‘renaissance’ man…a thoughtful mentor to students in their life outside of the classroom, and most importantly, a demanding and inspired professor of mathematics,” President R. Barbara Gitenstein said. “He will be missed.”
Professor Emeritus Siegfried Haenisch ’58, who first met Hausdoerffer as an undergraduate math student and later became his colleague and friend, explained that Hausdoerffer “was a great influence on the department.”
“He’s the gentleman who pushed for a requirement that all students, regardless of major, should take two courses in mathematics,” Haenisch said.
Professor Emeritus Leonard J. Tharney ’54, who also first met Hausdoerffer during his undergraduate days, described him as a “marvelous man…very human, very humble, very enlightening, and just a great friend to have.”
President Emeritus Clayton Brower echoed those sentiments, calling Hausdoerffer a “dear close personal friend,” while adding that he will “cherish” the many memories he has of the late professor.
Hausdoerffer was born May 26, 1913, in Weehawkin, New Jersey. In 1932, he entered what was then known as New Jersey State Teachers College and State Normal School at Trenton, where he excelled academically and athletically.
After graduating with a BS in math, Hausdoerffer taught and coached in Plainfield, New Jersey, earning a master’s degree from Columbia University in 1939. Two years later, he returned to the College as a demonstration teacher at the Model School. He served in World War II, returning to campus after the war to teach physics, astronomy, and science.
In 1950, after earning his doctorate in mathematics education from Rutgers University, Hausdoerffer joined the College’s math department. He served as department chair from 1956 to 1975, and during his years on the faculty, also served as dean of men, assistant football coach, and adviser to a number of student organizations.
After retiring from teaching in 1979, Hausdoerffer remained an active and supportive alumnus. He served on the Alumni Association Executive Board from 1982 to 1988. In 1983, he was inducted into the College’s Athletic Hall of Fame. In 1986, he donated the solar clock that stands outside the Student Center. In 1997, Hausdoerffer was awarded the Alumni Citation Award, the premier award given by the College’s Alumni Association. In 2009, in recognition of his years of service to his alma mater, the College named one of the new student apartment buildings in his honor.
Hausdoerffer is survived by his wife of 72 years, Rosemary (Canning) Hausdoerffer ’52; his daughter-in-law, Judith Hausdoerffer; five grandchildren and their spouses, Laurie and Chris Carlisle, Tyson and Patricia Hausdoerffer, John and Karen Hausdoerffer, Stephanie and Abe Fischer, and Sarah and Kyle Anderson; and seven great-grandchildren, Courtney, Steven, and Lindsey Carlisle, Atalaya Hausdoerffer, Tyus Fischer, Judit Hausdoerffer, and Sidra Anderson.
Ed’s note: This article was adapted, with permission, from a Signal article written by Jamie L Primeau ’13.