Cover photo for Dennis G. Hall's Obituary
Dennis G. Hall Profile Photo
1948 Hall 2024

Dennis G. Hall

March 7, 1948 — January 6, 2024


Dennis G. Hall, Emeritus Dean, Professor, and Vanderbilt’s first Associate Provost for Research passed away on Saturday, January 6, 2024 at the age of 75 after a short battle with cancer at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville. 

Dennis was born in Belleville, IL and attended St. Mary’s Grade School and later Althoff Catholic High School where he met his lifelong sweetheart, Rita.  Ever a curious mind, he was an avid reader, writer, and amateur HAM radio operator.  He received his B.S. in Physics at University of Illinois (1970), and later a PhD in Physics from University of Tennessee, Knoxville (1976), completing his dissertation at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. 

In 1980, he moved his family to Rochester, New York to join the faculty of the renowned Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester, where he established a successful track record of research, publication and teaching over the next 20 years.  He served as Director of the Institute of Optics from 1993-2000.  In search of a change, Dennis joined Vanderbilt University’s Central Administration in 2000.  He served as the first Associate Provost for Research and later Dean of the Graduate School for the next 15 years, where he elevated the role of research at Vanderbilt by many accounts.

Dennis was a loving father, known for his quirky sense of humor and strong moral center.  He was considered to be a Renaissance man by those who knew him.  He used his prodigious mind not just for physics, but to analyze the numbers behind everything including oil production, the national debt, climate change, and education.  He wrote numerous articles on these and other topics for the Tennessean and elsewhere.  He remained, to the end, committed in his belief in the power of science and education to improve society.  Coincidentally, an article on this subject appeared in the print version of the Tennessean just one day after he left this world. [Science and Technology May Change Society Quickly, but They Shape Our Every-Day Lives]

He is preceded in death by parents Eugene Hall and Mildred C. Klein (Hall), and older brother Richard Hall.  He is survived by loving wife Rita Hall (Winkelmann), daughters Katherine Hall (Eyre) and Christy Hall, son Greg Hall, and grandchildren Eleanor and Petra Wassum, Anika and Hayden Eyre, younger sister Judy K. Ackermann (Hall) along with cousins, nieces and nephews. 

A visitation is scheduled for Saturday, January 20 at West Harpeth Funeral Home from 2pm-6pm, with remarks and memories being shared from 3pm-4pm.  In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to one of the following charities: The Alzheimer's Association (, or the Michael J. Fox Foundation (

A livestream of the remarks and memories will begin at 3:00PM on Saturday. Please click here to view the livestream.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dennis G. Hall, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, January 20, 2024

2:00 - 6:00 pm (Central time)

Remarks and memories to be shared between 3:00PM - 4:00PM.

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