Zbigniew (Ziggy) Nitecki
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Zbigniew (Ziggy) Nitecki's Page

Profile Information

Current Home {City, ST}
Somerville, MA
Attended HP {No, Attended, or Graduate}
High School Graduation Year {yyyy}
June, January, or August
Elementary Schools Attended
Brett Harte, Ray
Education after High School
U Chicago 1962-65 SB (Math)
U California Berkeley 1965-9 PhD (Math)
Professor of Mathematics, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155
Alicia Korzeniowska
Kids {Name, Birth Year; ...}
Elizatbeth 1983
After Hyde Park, I went to U of Chicago, which was for me (unlike my kid sister, who left after one year) a great place. When I finished there, I was ready to leave home (and Chicago) and ended up at UC Berkeley. I timed things well, arriving a year after the Free Speech Movement and leaving a month before People's Park: the "interesting times" (in terms of the Chinese curse). It was certainly not dull, and there is much I remember with fondness, not just the climate (I find 70 degrees and cloudy ideal) and landscape, but also the cultural excitement, especially the music, and (for me) the mathematics, which was top notch at Berkeley in that period. Also, by contrast with my experience in Hyde Park, I was amazed to learn that you don't always have to look over your shoulder when you are on the street at night. On the other hand, I found the political culture oppressive: I was marginally more appalled by the Oakland cops and Governor Reagan than by the provocation-for-its-own-sake radicals in town. It seemed to me that California culture (which to be fair may have been just Berkeley culture) allowed for no sane middle (or sane anything?).

So when I finished my thesis (footnote: two of the three members of my thesis committee were cofounders of the Vietnam Day Committee: Steve Smale, my advisor, and Charles Pugh) I applied exclusively for jobs on the East Coast. I lucked out, getting a two year stint at Yale (or maybe it wasn't lucky?). Having been a political wallflower at Hyde Park High and at U Chicago (which to my surprise was a bit to the right of HPHS) and even Berkeley (which didn't mean innocence of tear gas) I reacted to Yale by getting at least a little involved in the politics around the Panther trial: I marched a bit and joined the "monitors" who were organized by the Panther supporters to help keep the demonstrations from giving the cops an excuse for mayhem. I think being a Hyde Parker really did make me more sensitive to racism as the underlying American problem than to imperialism or whatever (I say this with humble acknowledgement of the fact that I was spared the threat of the selective service, because of my relative academic success, that many of you reading this were not).

Anyway, when the two years at Yale were up, I applied (influenced by my office mate Richie Tolimieri, who had excellent radical credentials and hated New Haven so much that he commuted to Yale from the East Village) exclusively for jobs in New York City. I got one at City College, and moved to the (west) Village. I loved the life, taking the "A" (or was it "D") train to work in the morning, then spent many afternoons at the Graduate Center in midtown (across from the Public Library) where all the active mathematicians from the City system hung out. But late that year, I got married and moved away, to Cambridge, Mass., where Alicia was living (and teaching then in the Northeastern U. English department), and started at Tufts, where I have been now for 38 years (with a few breaks, see below).

The rest is easier to summarize. One perk of my profession is the opportunity to use professional activities as a pretext to travel. I spent 4 months in England between leaving Berkeley and arriving in New Haven, have had two extended trips to Brazil (the second with Alicia), several to Poland (including a 6-week visit to Warsaw in 1980 that ended a few days after the first Solidarity strikes), and many summers and one sabbatical year in Goettingen, which is Mecca to mathematicians, at least historically, and is the only college town that I really like. The Goettingen trips (from 1984 to 1994) allowed us to also travel in the East (Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia) and observe the change--Goettingen was 10 km from the German-German border. These and related travels were at the core of a book Alicia wrote a few years ago ("Recovered Land", published by U. Mass Press) which reflects on many of these trips that involved locales associated with her family's experiences during the War, as well as the changing scene in the East. She has a second book "Jakub's World", cowritten with Jack Terry, who was one of the younger prisoners at Flossenberg concentration camp, where Alicia's grandfather was also imprisoned. She has a long list of translations from the Polish, including Henryk Grynberg's "Drochobycz, Drochobycz" which one the Jewish Book Award a few years ago. She retired in 2009 from Bentley College.

We have a daughter, Elizabeth, who was born in 1983,who graduated from Hampshire College in 2006 and is currently unemployed.

We lived for 26 years in a rambling Victorian house in Melrose, Mass (a very nice suburb), but in 2007 moved back to civilization, a big condo in Somerville (a 20 minute walk from Harvard Square) which I share with my wife, two cats, a dog, and temporarily, our daughter and her cat.

When asked about retiring, I note that I have been at Tufts for 38 years; I aim for 50.

Zbigniew (Ziggy) Nitecki's Photos

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Comment Wall (4 comments)

At 5:07pm on November 10, 2010, Bill Multack said…
Enjoyed reading your bio and the info about the photos. I get the feeling your math is a little beyond the pre-algebra that I tutor to inner city kids here in Miami.
At 9:59pm on November 15, 2010, Diane Koch said…
Ziggy, You've been blessed with a great life. Diane
At 10:50am on February 28, 2013, Peg Davis said…
At 5:01pm on February 28, 2013, Peg Davis said…



I am still living in Marshfield but used to live in Cambridge, Arlington and West Medford.

I am on the committee trying to put the August reunion together. I hop you and your wife can make it.

Peg Stavish Davis

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