Picturing the Life of Paul Saltman

by Sameeha Khalid | Special Sections | SQ Vol. 10 (2012-2013)

A wise man once surmised, “the university is an organism and an organization which must create an internal environment to optimize three activities: teaching, learning, and service. How trivial these three words appear, yet how profound and complicated it is to carry out those processes effectively…there must be semipermeable membranes that define and limit the environment within the institution.”

This man was none other than Dr. Paul Saltman, a figure who left an ever-lasting impact not only on the students and faculty of UC San Diego but also on the world. Reading through stacks of papers written by Dr. Saltman himself that are available at the Mandeville Special Collections I was captivated by the sheer genius and wit that Saltman’s voice held in each sentence. The pages were in their original form and were thus quite fragile yet the words resonated with immense power. Although there were many brilliant quotes to choose from, the quote written above stood out to me as one that encompassed not only Dr. Saltman’s passion for education but also his love of science.

Clearly, Dr. Saltman did not just talk the talk, but truly walked the walk. Dr. Saltman dedicated his own life to those three things: teaching, learning, and service, and encouraged others to do the same on their own journeys to reach their unique human potential.

In 1967 Dr. Saltman joined UC San Diego, taking the school to new heights and allowing it to evolve into the world-renowned institution that it is today. Over a period of 32 years, Dr. Saltman took on the role of provost of Revelle College from 1967 to 1972, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs from 1972 to 1980, and continuously served as a beloved teacher, mentor, and researcher.

As a researcher, Dr. Saltman engaged in the study of nutrition, specifically looking to make sense of the chemistry, biochemistry, and nutritional role of trace metals such as iron, copper, zinc, manganese, and others. Dr. Saltman combined common sense with scientific exploration and believed in the importance of the responsibility of a scientist to communicate science to the public. As a professor and leader Dr. Saltman encouraged open discussion and showed concern for students’ education and overall well-being.

Dr. Saltman was a beacon of light on the UC San Diego campus; whoever came into contact with him including students and teachers alike regarded him as a role model and friend. With his bubbly personality and contagious smile, as well as his enthusiasm for learning, education, science, communication, and living life to the fullest Dr. Saltman was a legendary individual with the amazing ability to inspire generations.

Paul Saltman having an informal discussion with his students.

Paul Saltman having an informal discussion with his students.

Following in the footsteps of Dr. Saltman, the Saltman Quarterly strives to communicate scientific research to the general public and encourage learning and education. With this being the now 10th Edition of Saltman Quarterly we hope to carry on Dr. Saltman’s legacy and remember a man who saw the value in human interaction and had an incomparable positive impact on the people who knew him.

Dr. Saltman’s selfless dedication to humanity will never be forgotten. Dr. Saltman’s legacy has sparked the drive to keep teaching, learning, serving, and engaging with the world around us so that we too can challenge ourselves, inspire others, and effect change.