Ann F. Friedlaender PhD '64Professor Ann F.Friedlaender PhD '64, a noted economist who was the first female academic dean at MIT, died yesterday at Beth Israel Hospital. Friedlaender, who had been ill with cancer for several years, was 54 years old.
Friedlaender held dual appointments in two MIT departments as the Class of 1941 Professor of Civil Engineering and Economics. She was an authority in the field of public finance, with a specialty in transportation studies.
Friedlaender also had been the first woman to head an MIT academic department, serving as head of the economics department from January, 1983 until her appointment as dean.
As the first woman to head one of MIT's five schools, she served as Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science from 1984 to 1990.
During her tenure as dean, Friedlaender took the lead in undergraduate curriculum reform by sponsoring the restructuring and rejuvenation of the HASS-distribution system and the school's new minor program. She also sponsored the highly successful Burchard Scholars Program for undergraduates who excel both in the humanities, arts, and social science and in engineering and science.
In addition, Friedlaender sponsored the Integrated Studies Program, and she helped to establish MIT's first new doctoral program in 15 years, the PhD program in the History and Social Study of Science and Technology.
Her successor, Dean Philip S. Khoury, said that Friedlaender "contributed enormously to strengthening the profile of the Humanities faculty by ensuring many excellent appointments at the junior and senior level and by enhancing the stature and reputation of the the humanities within MIT and in the wide academic world."
MIT Corporation Chairman Paul E. Gray '54, who served as president when Friedlaender was dean, said: "Professor Friedlaender provided distinguished leadership of sustained effectiveness to the School of Humanities and Social Science at a time of rapid change. She reorganized the Humanities Department, introduced the Writing Requirement, and undertook a comprehensive review, restatement, and implementation of Institute [HASS requirements]. She changed the nature of undergraduate education at MIT and her influence will be felt for years to come by many generations of students. Her death leaves a great emptiness, both personal and institutional."
Friedlaender, a native of Philadelphia, received a BA in economics from Radcliffe College in 1960 and a PhD in economics from MIT in 1964.
Friedlaender, who resided in Newton, leaves her husband, Stephen, an architect, two sons, Lucas and Nathaniel, and a brother, Alexander L. Fretter, a professor of physics at Stanford University.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete.