Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York  

Ruth Witkus, Biology Professor Emerita, Dies at 89

Contact: Gina Vergel
(212) 636-7175

Ruth Witkus, Ph.D., professor emerita of biological sciences, died on Friday, May 2. She was 89.

Witkus was a staunch advocate for improving undergraduate courses and research in biological sciences at Fordham. In 1992, she obtained an $87,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Division of Undergraduate Education, which was used to acquire a transmission electron microscope for classes at Fordham.

"She was an excellent teacher and enjoyed her interactions with students," said William B. Thornhill, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. "As recently as 2002, Drs. Witkus and Grace Vernon, professor of biology,  offered a summer course for graduate students in the use of the electron microscope. She published research on the structure of cells from a variety of animals and bacteria using both scanning electron and transmission electron microscopes."

Witkus, who was among the first crop of female professors at Fordham College at Rose Hill, was a faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences from 1944 to 1989, Thornhill said. She was the chair of the department from 1966 to 1978 and was a professor emerita from 1989 to 2008.

A Funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 6, at St. Paul’s Church, King Street and Sherwood Avenue, Greenwich, Conn.

Founded in 1841, Fordham is the Jesuit University of New York, offering exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition to approximately 14,700 students in its four undergraduate colleges and its six graduate and professional schools. It has residential campuses in the Bronx and Manhattan, a commuter campus in Westchester, and the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y.

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