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University Mourns Dr. George Gerken, Longtime Callier Researcher

The University is mourning Dr. George Gerken, a professor emeritus of UT Dallas and a longtime researcher at the Callier Center, who died at his home June 22 after a prolonged illness.

Dr. George Gerken

Dr. George Gerken

Gerken had been with the Callier Center for Communication Disorders since 1967 and joined UT Dallas as an associate professor in 1973. He remained with the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences for 30 years before retiring as a full professor in 2003. He previously taught at the University of Virginia. He received his doctorate in biopsychology from the University of Chicago in 1959.

“George Gerken was one of a few pioneers instrumental in establishing the Callier Center as one of the pre-eminent communication sciences centers in the country,” said Dr. Bert Moore, dean of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. “His research into how the brain processes sound shaped our understanding of the complexities of auditory perception.”

Gerken’s legacy includes guiding 11 PhD students to graduation, as well as bridging academic research with clinical treatments by founding the Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Clinic at Callier.

“We have lost a dear colleague and a valuable member of the UT Dallas family,” said Dr. Aage Møller, professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. “His research on tinnitus got international recognition. He started a tinnitus clinic at Callier, where he treated many sufferers of that terrible disease.”

Outside of research, Gerken was passionately involved in nature and the environment. Working with U.S. and state foresters, he and his wife converted an 80-acre farm in the Ozarks into reclaimed forest land now certified as a tree farm by the American Forest Institute. Gerken’s ashes will be spread on the land that he loved.

Moore added that Gerken was also a gifted and effective instructor who taught one of the first courses in the undergraduate neuroscience program.

“George Gerken is one of those critical shapers of our University whose impact still guides our future,” Moore said.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Dora; a son, Christopher Gerken; a daughter-in-law, Kay; a daughter, Cynthia Gerken Schlanger; a son-in-law, Erik; and five grandchildren – Karen, Tom, Steve, Jake and Lilah.

Gerken’s family and friends have said he will be remembered for his love of music, sense of humor and love of puns.

“I personally feel I have lost a dear friend and a very good and generous colleague who often took time to help others,” Møller said. “His former colleagues will miss him, and many students will remember him for the rest of their lives.”

For those who wish to remember Gerken, contributions may be made to the Lewy Body Dementia Association.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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