By Peter Chipman, OCW Digital Publication Specialist and OCW Educator Assistant
We’re saddened to hear of the death of our friend Herb Gross, who passed away on May 27th at the age of 91.
Herb, whom we profiled on this blog in a post on the occasion of his 90th birthday last year, touched the lives of countless students worldwide through his series of videos on single variable calculus, multivariable calculus, and complex variables, differential equations, and linear algebra, first recorded about fifty years ago but still among the most popular resources on MIT OpenCourseWare and on OCW’s YouTube channel.
As news of Herb’s death has spread, those who benefited from his teaching have been quick to share their remembrances and tributes. We would like to share a sampling of the comments we received in response to the post on our YouTube channel announcing his death:
“His lectures turned my fear of math into love.”
“He was a delight to watch.”
“A wonderful teacher who made calculus look effortlessly simple.”
“The enthusiasm, dedication and depth with which he discussed mathematics was just unparalleled….He was one of those teachers who reflected contagious joy in the process of teaching.”
“A truly great teacher. Able to ground the applied in the abstract – and able to draw straight lines and curves freehand. Able to insert wisdom seamlessly into practical instruction.”
“He was a great educator and great human being.”
These students and self-learners put the case more eloquently than we could hope to do ourselves. In losing Herb Gross, we have all lost a great treasure. But let us give Herb himself the last word. In an email to an OCW staffer a year or two before his death, Herb gave voice to a sentiment that he expressed often in his later years, as he reflected on his mortality and on his legacy as a math teacher:
“It gives me a great feeling to know that lectures I gave 50 years ago are still helping others learn; and because the Herb Gross in the videos will remain forever young, he will continue to help others even when this Herb Gross is no longer here.”
We couldn’t agree more. We’re deeply grateful for having known Herb Gross, and grateful too for being able to provide a platform through which his inspired teaching can go on indefinitely.