Albert I. Hermalin, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, Sociology
Research Professor Emeritus, Population Studies Center
University of Michigan
Al Hermalin, a boy from the Bronx, received his B.S. degree in mathematics and statistics in 1949 from City College of New York. After serving in the U.S. Army from 1950 to 1952 and working in the Division of Statistics and Research at the Institute of Life Insurance in New York City until 1964, he began graduate studies at Princeton University, where he received his M.A. (1966) and Ph.D. (1969) degrees in sociology and anthropology. He joined the faculty at the University of Michigan in 1967 as a lecturer in sociology and a research associate in the Population Studies Center. Al was promoted to assistant professor of sociology in 1969, associate professor in 1972, and professor in 1978. He served as associate director of the Population Studies Center from 1972-1976, as director from 1977-1987, and as interim director from 1990-1991.
Throughout his career, Al Hermalin has profoundly influenced his field, colleagues, and students in his roles as researcher, teacher, mentor, and steward. During his tenure as director of the Population Studies Center at UM, Al was instrumental in obtaining major funding from the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute on Aging. In 1989, he was awarded the Robert J. Lapham Prize by the Population Association of America (PAA) for his contributions to the field. He served as chair of the Population Committee of the National Academy of Sciences from 1985-1989 and as president of the PAA in 1993. He founded the Michigan Center on the Demography of Aging and served as its director from 1994-1999. During his career at Michigan, Al mentored dozens of doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows from the United States and all over the world – many who are today active and prominent contributors to the field of population studies.
Following his early work experience in the life insurance industry, a graduate student publication on mortality, and a dissertation on the homogeneity of siblings on education and occupation, Al’s research during the first two decades of his academic career focused mainly on fertility and family planning in developing countries. Along with Ron Freedman, Al was instrumental in shaping the Knowledge, Attitudes and Practice (KAP) surveys about family planning in Taiwan and in exploiting those surveys for analysis of population trends. Later in his career, his interests turned to population aging and he received a MERIT Award from the National Institute on Aging for a comparative study of aging in Asia (1989-1999), which culminated in an influential volume that was edited by Al, with contributions from collaborators in Asia and the U.S. (The Well-Being of the Elderly in Asia, The University of Michigan Press, 2002). Al managed to synthesize these seemingly disparate strands of research in his PAA presidential address entitled “Fertility and Family Planning Among the Elderly in Taiwan.”
Al was appointed Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan in 1998. He and his wife, Jolene, still reside in Ann Arbor and enjoy extended winter stays in Florida and frequent visits with their children and grandchildren in New Jersey and California. Al remains active in research collaborations and, when in Ann Arbor, continues to work from his office at the Population Studies Center and is still known around town as a fierce force on the squash court.
Most important, Al continues to inspire and encourage those who have the good fortune of knowing and working with him. His colleagues and former students and trainees cherish his guidance and friendship and are immensely pleased to honor him with this recognition.