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Posted on Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Renowned U-M professor of human sexuality Sylvia Hacker dies at age 90

By Cole Bertsos

Sylvia Hacker — renowned author, TV host, lecturer and professor emerita at the University of Michigan — died in her sleep Sunday in her apartment in Lawrence, Kan., according to her obituary.


Sylvia Hacker

Ann Arbor News file photo

Born on Oct. 19, 1922, she got a degree in biology from Brooklyn College and earned her Ph.D. at U-M at the age of 53, where she later taught courses in human sexuality. According to her obituary, she was known for "outspoken theories" on the sexuality continuum as well as appearances on TV shows such as Phil Donahue and Montel Williams.

She and her husband Charles Hacker, who passed away in 1978, are survived by two daughters, Randi Hacker and Avry Budka; a granddaughter, Juliana Hacker; as well as her sister, Sunnie Kurtzman.

Sylvia Hacker also is known for her book, "What Every Teenager Really Wants to Know about Sex," as well as her own TV show "Sexy Minutes" in the early '90s.

A funeral was held at noon Wednesday at Schwartz Brothers-Jeffer Memorial Chapels in Forest Hills, New York.

Cole Bertsos can be reached at



Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 8:55 p.m.

With tears in my eyes, I write this in honor of one of the most inspiring, funny, patient, innovative people I have known. I was her teaching assistant for her new (then) sexuality course complete with a field trip to the local sex shop to view sex toys! Yes, Sylvia pre-dates Dr. Ruth and as a good friend of Sol Gordon, the two of them made talking about and studying sex something normal. I took not only what she taught me academically, but the unabashed attitudes about sex to my professional career as an adolescent peer health education program developer and manager at a free clinic. Wherever you are, Sylvia, I am sure that there is a bathroom with a write-on wall with a multitude of colorful markers hanging down....I would write: Rest well knowing your life touched so many in such a positive way!


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 1:15 a.m.

She was also one of the friendliest, sweetest people in town. Always a pleasure to see her!


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 7:04 p.m.

Dr. Sylvia Hacker is a pioneer in Sexual Health. She is an inspiration for so many people including myself. She was a mentor to me, her platform on Outer-Course became my mission, with her support. Her memory is in my heart and thoughts, her message still lives on and I plan to share everything I learned from Sylvia with my daughter. Thank you Sylvia, you have done so much positive for our community and young adults. You will be forever missed! Her book is relevant today, I've read a lot of books on sexuality, but none as honest and down to earth as "What Every Teenager Really Wants to Know About Sex." I highly recommend it to parents.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.

I wonder if she knew Dr Ruth.

tom swift jr.

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:43 p.m.

30 years ago I was honored to attend a workshop instructed by Dr. Hacker. She was years ahead of the time in terms of her understanding of sexuality. Her insights allowed me to step back and reevaluate some of the misconceptions I had been taught. She was a moving force and contributed much to our understanding.

Cole Bertsos

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:25 p.m.

After reading and learning more about Sylvia, I can only imagine that her workshop must have been amazing. I wish I would have been able to take one of her courses!

Kellie Woodhouse

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:08 p.m.

Thanks for sharing your memory.

Dog Guy

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 3:11 p.m.

Dr. Hacker contributed much to the University of Michigan's current reputation among Michiganders.