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  • Sidney Harman
04/14/2011 07:00:00

Trustee Sidney Harman, 92

Caltech mourns the loss of trustee Sidney Harman, who died in Washington, D.C., on April 12 of complications from leukemia. He was 92.

"During his remarkable life, Sidney Harman made a significant impact on industry, government, journalism, and academia," says Caltech president Jean-Lou Chameau. "Sidney's intellectual gifts were outshined only by his philanthropic spirit. Caltech, and the many organizations to which Sidney devoted his time and talents, will continue to benefit from his efforts for years to come."

A pioneer in the high-fidelity industry, Sidney Harman was the founder and chairman emeritus of Harman International Industries, Inc., a leading manufacturer of high-quality audio, video, and navigation products for the consumer, automotive, and professional markets.

In 1953, Harman cofounded Harman Kardon, Inc. He and partner Bernard Kardon helped to define the home "hi-fi" industry with the development of the first stereo receiver. The company grew and evolved over the years to become Harman International Industries, an S&P 500 company and one of the largest conglomerates in consumer electronics.

In September 2010, he became chairman of Newsweek magazine.

In 1977 and 1978, Harman served as deputy secretary of commerce during President Carter's administration. Active in education, Harman was president of Friends World College, a worldwide experimental Quaker college, from 1970 to 1973. In 1977, Harman founded the Program on Technology, Public Policy, and Human Development at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Formerly the Judge Widney Professor of Business at the University of Southern California, Harman was, most recently, a Presidential Professor and the inaugural Isaiah W. Hellman Professor of Polymathy at the university.

Widely acknowledged for his Quality of Working Life programs, which he initiated at his company's plants, Harman was the author of the book Mind Your Own Business: A Maverick's Guide to Business, Leadership and Life and the coauthor, with Daniel Yankelovich, of the book Starting with the People.

Among other honors and appointments, Harman was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, served as a chairman of the executive committee of the board of Business Executives for National Security, and was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Harman was a graduate of Baruch College of the City University of New York (1939), and received a PhD in higher education from the Union Institute and University in 1973. An ardent philanthropist, Harman retired from industry in 2008.

Harman was elected to the office of Senior Trustee on the Caltech Board of Trustees on April 27, 2010. "During his relatively brief tenure on the board, he was actively and enthusiastically engaged in the governance of the Institute," says Chameau.

Harman is survived by his wife, former Democratic congresswoman Jane Harman; his six children, Daniel, Justine, Lynn, Gina, Paul, and Barbara Harman; two stepchildren, Brian Frank and Hilary Peck; and 10 grandchildren.

Written by Lori Oliwenstein