clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

University of Utah professor William Mulder, 92, dies

William Mulder
William Mulder

One of Utah's prominent Dutchmen, published Mormon historian and University of Utah emeritus professor William Mulder, died last Wednesday at his Salt Lake City home.

Mr. Mulder, 92, was born in 1915 in Haarlem, Holland, and immigrated to the United States with his family in 1920. They landed in New Jersey and moved to Salt Lake six years later.

He attended the U., where he excelled in his studies of the English language, earning a master's degree. He later received a doctorate in American civilization from Harvard University in 1955.

As founding director of the U.'s Institute for American Studies and of the Center for Intercultural Studies, he served many students.

"He possesses an exceptional humanity that permeates his teaching and inspires those around him," wrote one student who anonymously nominated Mr. Mulder for the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2003.

His 41 years at the university included multiple international travel and research trips that continue to serve the school and its multicultural grasp.

"Professor Mulder was a pioneering force in connecting the U. to the world beyond Utah," said U. President Michael K. Young. "We would not be as prominent on the academic world stage without his immeasurable contributions to administration, collaboration and research. He will be profoundly missed."

Mr Mulder was the author of numerous histories, including "Homeward to Zion: The Mormon Migration from Scandinavia"; "The Mormons in American History"; and "Among the Mormons: Historic Accounts by Contemporary Observers," which he edited with the late A. Russell Mortensen.

He also contributed to American literature as an officer in the Modern Language Association as well as having served on multiple boards and committees overseeing public literacy and American studies. During his lifetime, Mr. Mulder received many awards for his service and contributions.

"Bill and his wife, Helen, forged international relationships, particularly with India, that continue today thanks to Bill's acumen and attention to others," said colleague and friend Ed Leuders. "He was pivotal in his role as ambassador to academic visitors from abroad, acting as their unofficial hosts and providing a bridge to the university community."

Mr. Mulder was renowned for his teaching, which has been described as "stunning," graced with personal style, wit and dedication. "Bill had near perfection of his language which suited any occasion," said Leuders. "He was always civil, always delivered himself with dignity and directness. He never had to search for a word — it was already there."

Mr. Mulder remained active in academic circles into retirement as president of the Utah Academy and as a member of several boards on campus and in the community.

A brief memorial service will be held at the U. Alumni House on Saturday, March 29, at 2 p.m. The family has suggested contributions be made in Mr. Mulder's honor to the U. Marriott Library.