Alfred R. Neumann


Alfred R. Neumann

Founding Chancellor, 1972-1982

From 1972 to 1982, Dr. Alfred R. Neumann served as the founding chancellor of the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Neumann came to the United States from his birthplace of Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, in the days preceding World War II. Alfred Neumann studied violin and viola under the principal violist of the Frankfurt Symphony and absorbed the love of music as an integral part of his life. In 1937, he spoke four languages when his family sent their beloved sixteen-year-old to the United States to "finish his education."

He entered Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, earning his B.A. in record time, by 1940. He moved to the University of Kentucky to earn his first M.A. in 1941. Neumann began his career in education at Beall High School in Frostburg, Maryland, where he taught Latin and French In 1941 and 1942. He served in the United States Army from 1942 until 1945, when two significant things happened. He met Selma Smith, who was preparing for a career as a concert pianist, and he came to Texas for the first time. They were married in 1945. Completing his Army service with the rank of staff sergeant, Neumann returned to the field of education teaching German and French at Tulane in New Orleans in 1946. He went to Harvard in 1946 as a teaching fellow and earned his second master's degree from Harvard in 1948. Moving to the University of Michigan, he was a German instructor from 1948 until 1952 and earned his Ph.D. in German literature in 1951. He was an ACLS Scholar in 1952-53.

In 1953, Neumann joined the University of Houston as an assistant professor of German. He progressed through the ranks as associate professor of German, assistant to the president, acting dean, professor of German, and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, from 1959 to 1972. In 1972; Dr. Neumann was appointed founding chancellor of the new University of Houston at Clear Lake City. He began with a vision and one building, the Clear Lake Graduate Center. By August of 1982 when Dr. Neumann retired as chancellor of the campus, it had grown to four buildings serving 6,580 students. More than 5,000 students had been awarded bachelor's or master's degrees, the library had expanded to over half a million volumes, and the dedicated faculty had published more than 100 books.

Selma and Alfred Neumann devoted their extensive energies to community service, music, and to the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Alfred Neumann served as president of the Jewish Family Service of Houston, secretary of Congregation Emanuel, president of the Houston Friends of Music, and president of the Contemporary Music Society of Houston. He was a board member of the Houston Grand Opera, the Allied Arts Association, the Society for Performing Arts, and a long-time member of the Houston Symphony.

Among his professional affiliations and activities, he chaired the national boards of countless academic and professional organizations. Chancellor Neumann wrote in his message for the Bayou Building dedication: "Here is a home for all who want to study and learn, to share in common experiences, in public events, in nature, and in the achievement of civilization. To provide a means for people to interact with nature, with each other, and with the accumulated and newly generated knowledge, is the aim of the Bayou Building." His achievements in providing the foundation for the University of Houston-Clear Lake dearly reflect the accuracy of his foresight.


Alfred R. Neumann