He’s a Stand-up Teacher


Encouraging a packed auditorium to hum a seductive song, the 72-year-old biology professor begins to unbutton his short-sleeve, collared shirt to get the attention of his antsy class.

Dan Goldmann, a warm hearted, funny yet tough and to-the-point professor, first began capturing SAC students’ minds 35 years ago. His strip tease — that later reveals a strand of DNA printed on his undershirt — is one way he gets it done.

“He is very dynamic and never boring and is always thinking about how to make class real for the students,” biology teacher Kathleen Takahashi said.

But Goldmann, with his outgoing personality, is far from the amateur stand-up comic he portrays in the classroom every year.

While pondering a way to express deep meaning into words, Goldmann stood silently in front of the class. He held back tears as he answered a question one student asked about his accent and his heritage.

He eyed the crowded classroom as they guessed the country of his birth, and he explained to them why he speaks German, Hebrew, Yiddish and English. He was raised in a small farming community in Israel, because his Jewish parents were not allowed to get a job in Germany.

The farm he was raised on was self-sustaining and meant to provide his family with necessities.

“It was very difficult,” he said, about his parents fleeing Germany and leaving their families behind.

Goldmann earned money by helping with the harvest of food crops. As a farmhand he would wake up early to dust plants and give injections to the chickens, which he says were “stinky.”  “The times were tough and simple, much like the Great Depression in the U.S.,” he said.

Simple times did not keep Goldmann from serving four years in the Israeli military. He earned his parachute wings by jumping from a plane five times during three weeks of intense training, and later became a first lieutenant.

Parachuting out of a military plane in high altitude frightens most people, but Goldman said during a training exercise that he felt relieved. He recalled how air sick he was from circling around a specific drop point.

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“The whole military experience is a quick act of growth and maturation,” he said.

Today, his tanned, sun-worn skin hints of the days when he traveled much of the world as a professional soccer referee for the North American Soccer League, where he met soccer stars Pele and Franz Beckenbauer.

He still referees high school soccer, but he also assigns referees for all divisions of college soccer.

Goldmann, a graduate of UCLA, spoke about being the first coach in the SAC soccer program, starting in 1976.

“Soccer was my sidekick,” Goldmann said. His first year he won the conference championship with a 13-1-2 record, and he was 6-0-2 in conference.

Several of his successes on this campus were off the soccer field. He was president of the academic senate, and  also served as the college’s department chair for biology.

Yet, as time wears down on him, he refuses to think about retirement. “I enjoy the teaching,” Goldmann said. “When you come to school and you’re among young people … you usually forget how old you are.”

Did you know?

• He bakes cookies for faculty and friends at the end of the year.
• He attended UC Berkeley before transferring to UCLA, where he earned his degree.
• He used to run five miles a day. “The best part about the run is the shower afterwards,” he said.
• He has had 40 to 50 T-shirts made with biology related images. They cost him $20 each.

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