Kenneth M. Sayre, Notre Dame professor emeritus, dead at 94

University of Notre Dame alumni, staff, and students woke up this week to terrible news concerning one of their own.

According to the university’s website, Kenneth M. Sayre, “a University of Notre Dame professor emeritus of philosophy and an early leader in the study of artificial intelligence,” passed away at the age of 94.

Sayre was a notable author and accomplished much during his time in academia.

He had over 50 articles published in various journals in the fields he taught.

Remember Sayre

Paul Weithman, the Glynn Family Honors Professor of Philosophy, issued a statement on his former colleague’s passing.

“With Ken’s passing, we in the Department of Philosophy lost a remarkable friend and colleague,” Weithman wrote.

He added: “Despite a teaching load that would seem almost unbearably heavy 50 years on, Ken was a prolific publisher from the outset, and was at the leading edge of a cohort of scholars who began to transform the department into the leading center of philosophical work that it is today.”

“Those of us who teach philosophy at Notre Dame now owe an incalculable debt to those who effected that transformation, of whom Ken was among the very first.”

Impressive upbringing

Sayre, born in Nebraska, became interested in subjects like artificial intelligence and related fields long before they became mainstream.

He even worked in MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory on air-defense systems while he was earning his doctorate at Harvard University.

He would join Notre Dame’s staff in 1958, going on to win a “National Science Foundation grant for research on the simulation of mental processes that would blend science with philosophy.”

Clearly, Sayre was a game-changer in his respective fields and has the respect of those who carry on his research.