Annenberg School for Communication Emeritus Professor Elihu Katz died on Dec. 31 at age 95.
Recognized as a distinguished sociologist, and a “founding father of the field of Communication,” Katz authored over 20 books and 175 articles and book chapters during his lifetime, Annenberg News reported. His research interests included the diffusion of ideas and innovations and the dynamics of public opinion, according to his Annenberg faculty profile.
Katz joined the Penn faculty in 1993 as a Distinguished Trustee Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School. During his time at Penn, Katz started the postdoctoral Annenberg Scholars Program and co-authored the book “Echoes of Gabriel Tarde: What We Know Better or Different 100 Years Later” with Annenberg Ph.D.s Christopher Ali and Joohan Kim, Annenberg News reported.
Katz retired from Annenberg in 2014. A collection of his works can be accessed through the Annenberg School for Communication Library Archive.
Katz received his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and Ph.D. from Columbia University. As a graduate student, Katz met his mentor, sociologist Paul F. Lazarsfeld. With Lazarsfeld, Katz co-authored his first book “Personal Influence: The Part Played by People in the Flow of Mass Communications,” which explored the intersection of mass media and interpersonal communication, Annenberg News reported.
Throughout his career, Katz worked at several universities, such as the University of Chicago, the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Katz helped establish the Hebrew University’s Department of Communication and Journalism, The Jerusalem Post reported.
In Israel, Katz has been recognized for bringing television broadcasting to the country. In the late 1960s, the Israeli government appointed Katz to lead a task force responsible for implementing television broadcasting, and from 1968 to 1969, Katz was the Director of Israeli Television, according to Annenberg News.
Katz received several honors, including the UNESCO-Canada McLuhan Prize, the Israel Prize, and the Burda Prize. He was an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
In addition to receiving honorary degrees from the Universities of Ghent, Montreal, Paris, Haifa, Rome (La Sapienza), Bucharest, and Quebec, and Northwestern University, Katz was awarded an honorary doctor of sciences degree from Penn in 2018, Annenberg News reported.
“Elihu Katz is a scholar of rare accomplishments and influence. I can think of no one more deserving of an honorary degree from the University of Pennsylvania. And I can think of no better way of showing him our gratitude for his many contributions to Annenberg, Penn, and the Communication field,” former Annenberg Dean Michael X. Delli Carpini said in 2018, Annenberg News reported.
Katz continued to engage in research and writing in Jerusalem up until his death. He was buried at Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuhot Cemetery on Jan. 2, The Jerusalem Post reported. He is survived by his wife, two sons, and their families.