August 27, 1999
Media Contact: Dolores Davies, (858)
Editor's Note: Images of Paul Saltman available:
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NOTED UCSD BIOLOGIST, NUTRITION EXPERT
ACCLAIMED TEACHER PAUL SALTMAN DIES AUG 27.
Paul D. Saltman, a professor of biology at the University of California, San Diego, a
nationally renowned nutrition expert and an academician/communicator who reveled in the
disciplines of scholarship, teaching and service, died early this morning of prostate cancer at
UCSD's Thornton Hospital. He was 71.
During his 32 years at UCSD, Saltman served as provost of Revelle College from 1967 to
1972 and as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs from 1972 to 1980, before devoting full time
to his real passions: teaching and research.
University of California President Richard Atkinson noted that "Paul Saltman played a
key role in defining the nature of UCSD. He held to the highest academic standards, was a
brilliant teacher, and showed excellent judgment in guiding the activities of the University. He
will be remembered as someone who truly made a difference in the evolution of the San Diego
campus as a world-class institution of higher education. He was a Renaissance man whose
integrity, scholarly interests and love of learning were reflected in all he did. He brought honor to
the San Diego campus and to the University of California as a whole."
Robert C. Dynes, UCSD Chancellor, said "Paul was a teacher who inspired every student
with whom he came in contact. His love of learning, his enthusiasm for science, his
communication skills, made him a role model for students and faculty alike. My tenure here has
been enriched by knowing him--by his advice, his personal integrity, his passion for teaching and
Biology Department Chair Suresh Subramani said: "We in the Biology Department, and
everyone at UCSD, grieve with the Saltman family at our loss. Paul was the kind of teacher,
scholar and gentleman one meets perhaps once in a lifetime. My colleagues in the department
and the UCSD campus feel greatly honored to have known him. His selfless devotion to teaching
and mentoring students captures the essence of the mission of any university, and will continue
to inspire our faculty."
When asked the ingredients of a great teacher, Saltman once concluded: knowledge,
skills, the ability to comprehend the process of human understanding, and the ability to inspire
students and excite them with the notion of learning. He called the teacher-pupil relationship an
interactive process of giving and sharing. "I don't want kids to grow up to be Paul," he said. "I
want kids to grow up to the limits of their own human potential."
With this contagious excitement and respect for learning and teaching, Saltman was a
legend on the UCSD campus. He developed new interdisciplinary courses called
Frontiers of Science for non-science majors, established and taught special programs and
summer courses to enhance the scientific skills of high school teachers, and served on the
National Science Foundation Committee on Science Education.
"What more meaningful service could we perform as academic scientists than to forge an
effective and sustained relationship with our primary and secondary school teaching colleagues,"
Laudatory student letters sent to Saltman were legion. One student wrote "I was a student
in your biology classes and I am now doing research at UCSC. I just wanted to let you know that
you were the BEST teacher I ever had in college and that you truly motivated people to learning.
Someday I hope to be a teacher that inspires people the way you do." Another student applying
for Medical School wrote: "I am very thankful that I have come into contact with you as you
have helped me to build and refine my lifelong goal of healing, learning and helping others. I
hope that one day I will influence others to the degree that you have influenced me. Nothing has
been more positive." Said another: "Paul Saltman is the most charismatic, altruistic, caring and
noble person I have ever known. I have never respected anyone more than I respect him. He is
loved by thousands of students."
Students have honored Saltman with Excellence in Teaching Awards from the University
of Southern California and from Revelle, Muir, Warren and Thurgood Marshall Colleges at
UCSD. In 1994 he received the first Career Teaching Award from the San Diego Division of the
UC Academic Senate. He is also the recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the
California Institute of Technology.
The UCSD Alumni Association named Saltman Honorary Alumnus of the Year for 1999,
and the Paul D. Saltman Chair in Science Education was established at UCSD in his honor in
June of this year.
In research, Saltman directed his efforts toward understanding the chemistry,
biochemistry, and nutritional role of trace metals such as iron, copper, zinc, manganese and
others. This resulted in improved dietary and supplemental strategies by which humans can
obtain sufficient iron and other nutrients for proper growth and development. Clinical
applications of his research include reduction of free radical damage to hearts, prevention of
anemia, enhanced physical performance, and better bone and skeletal metabolism.
Widely known for his common sense approach to nutrition guided by factual knowledge,
Saltman is the author of The UCSD Nutrition Book, acclaimed as one of the most
interesting and understandable guides to the science of nutrition and the joys of food written for
the general public, and The New Nutrition, a collection of readings from medical and scientific
literature that explores nutritional topics in depth.
Saltman became renowned as a nutritionist who debunked the myths of what many
people consider good dietary habits and pointed out that fatty foods such as hamburgers can be
good for you – as long as you seek an overall balance in your diet. One of the educator/scientist's
main concerns was to communicate, in the broadest possible way, important scientific
developments in the context of their social and ethical importance.
Throughout his career he did radio and television programs, including a half-hour series
called Patterns of Life for National Educational Television and a series for the Public
Broadcasting System. And he acted the role of a scientist in the documentary film, "Why Man
Creates." He authored the first of the Courses by Newspapers sequence for the National
Endowment for the Humanities titled America and the Future of Man, and published numerous
articles on nutrition and scientific developments in professional journals as well as popular
magazines and newspapers. He also served on national and international editorial boards for
scientific journals and was a consultant to the National Institutes of Health, the National
Academy of Sciences, the National Science Foundation and local and regional agencies.
Saltman was born April 11, 1928 in Los Angeles and educated in public schools. His
mother, Sadye Solotoy, a native of Canada, died when he was three. His father, David Saltman, a
Russian furniture maker from whom he began learning the trade and whom he described as "one
of the preeminent furniture makers in the nation," died in an automobile accident when Saltman
was 12. He was raised by his loving uncle, Percy Solotoy, and his aunt, now deceased. He
became enamored with the sciences as taught by a high school chemistry teacher, and went on to
obtain a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a doctorate in biochemistry from California Institute
of Technology in Pasadena.
Saltman did postgraduate biochemistry studies at the College de France in Paris and
served as a professor at the University of Copenhagen and at Murdoch University in Australia.
Prior to coming to UCSD he was on the faculty of the Department of Biochemistry at the
University of Southern California for 14 years.
He was an avid sportsman all his life, beginning with basketball and boxing in high
school, basketball in college and skiing, surfing and tennis with his family. He was an original
member of the San Onofre Surfing Association.
Saltman is survived by his wife of 50 years, Barbara; their two sons, David and Joshua,
and five grandchildren.
The family has requested that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Paul Saltman
Endowed Chair for Teaching Excellence, c/o the UC San Diego Foundation, 9500 Gilman Dr.
0940, La Jolla, Ca., 92093. A private service will be held.