This section of the journal is a small but heartfelt collection of essays in honor of someone who gave a great deal of his time, thinking, and heart to our collective work in civically engaged science education. A key leader in SENCER from its beginnings in 2001, David Ferguson played an even more important role from 2015 until his death when, as Associate Provost and Chair of Technology and Society, he became the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement’s institutional sponsor at Stony Brook University. As such, he was involved in all aspects of our work and was responsible for greatly expanding our programming into engineering and technology. These tributes are from just a small sampling of the literally hundreds of colleagues who were profoundly impacted by Dave’s life and work, but they are exemplary of the high esteem and affection he inspired.
My own history with David Ferguson goes back to the late 90s. At the time, I was the Executive Director of the American Conference of Academic Deans and accompanied my colleague David Burns, later the founder and PI of SENCER, on a visit to Stony Brook University. Dave was then the director of the newly formed Center for Excellence in Learning & Teaching (CELT) and was already supporting problem-based and student-centered curricular programs that Science Education for New Civic Engagements would be advancing a few years later. As a community of faculty practice, SENCER is grounded in the ideals of both democracy and science, and not in a particular method, pedagogical approach, or disciplinary canon. It is those ideals, which Dave both espoused and lived, that bind our community and have held it together for over two decades.
Fidelity to those scientific and democratic ideals—of integrity, honesty, open-mindedness, and respect for evidence—underpinned Dave’s commitment both to SENCER and to his Stony Brook family. Although Dave had garnered national recognition as a researcher, he chose to spend most of his career, and his considerable talent for attracting funding, on expanding access and diversity in STEM through countless initiatives and programs. Given his widely recognized success as an administrator, PI, and collaborator, it was obvious that Dave could have focused more on his own career advancement. But personal gain, recognition, or greater authority over others was never a motivator for Dave, and his unwavering loyalty and commitment to Stony Brook University, an institution and a community he loved unreservedly, was one of his most distinguishing characteristics. For Dave, Stony Brook was his version of the “beloved community”—a term coined by the philosopher Josiah Royce and popularized by Dr. Martin Luther King—a community of common purpose, mutuality, and civility in the service of a better world.
In his autobiography, the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges asserted, “My father was very intelligent and, like all intelligent men, very kind.” No one embodied that wise observation better than Dave. Most of the essays here focus on that kindness, and the consideration and generosity that characterized all his relationships. For me it was his intelligence—emotional, organizational, intellectual—that was the foundation of his kindness. He was a mathematician by training, and his clear and logical approach to problems, projects, and organizational structures was evident, both in his extraordinary administrative accomplishments and in the respect he garnered from faculty and administrators from every division of his university.
That intelligence ensured that Dave’s kindness was inextricable from strong convictions and a clear moral compass, one that Did not turn a blind eye to self-serving, dishonest, and hypocritical individuals and actions. In her essay, Lauren Donovan, who worked with Dave for many years, notes that she never heard him raise his voice. Sadly, in some of our many conversations and planning sessions in what turned out to be the last years of his life, I DID hear Dave raise his voice, in both anger and genuine bewilderment at the callous, unilateral, and uncaring leadership that increasingly dominated both higher education and the country at large. But even Jesus himself felt anger, especially toward those who prized money and personal gain over faith and turned a temple into a marketplace. In remembering Dave, I will try to emulate his kindness, patience, openness, and untiring commitment to science education that promoted social good, while also holding on to his acute ethical discernment, clear sense of mission, and even his righteous anger at injustice and hypocrisy that has no place in the educational enterprise. We owe him nothing less.
Candice Foley • Deb Dwyer • Janelle Bradshaw de Hernandez • Nina Maung-Gaona • Lauren Donovan • Patricia Aceves • Paul Siegel
Memorial Tribute for Dr. David Ferguson
Dr. Candice J. Foley
Professor Emeritus of Chemistry,
I’m grateful to be able to share fond memories of my friend, mentor, and colleague Dr. David Ferguson to celebrate his life and career. Dave was the ultimate “connector” of people and projects dedicated to equity and inclusion at all levels in STEM. He accomplished this with his characteristic gentleness, warmth, humility, and humor, but his resolve to achieve his goals was a true force to be reckoned with! No one could say, “No” to Dave. Early on Dave recognized the crucial importance of creating bridges and pathways for our talented STEM students at Suffolk County Community College (SCCC), to empower and inspire underrepresented STEM scholars to attain their educational goals. As a result of Dave’s championing of many inter-institutional collaborations for more than two decades, we at SCCC have a robust model for serving underrepresented minority students (URMs) at all levels in STEM. Taken together, these programs provide entry points and mentoring opportunities at all junctures of a student’s journey in STEM, from secondary school through community college, transfer to a four-year college, and on to pre-doctoral and post-doctoral training. Dave was influential in so many important international, national, and statewide SUNY arenas. He encouraged and provided mentorship and entrée to innumerable faculty members, helping them to catalyze their initiatives and careers, and he was always generous with his time. When we asked him frequently to be our keynote speaker at our annual STEM recognition ceremony, he also never said, “No.” He always inspired our students to believe in themselves, and one of my fondest memories of his pearls of wisdom was his invoking of Christopher Robin’s words to Winnie the Pooh,
“Promise me you’ll always remember:
You’re braver than you believe,
And stronger than you seem,
And smarter than you think.”
Of all of Dave’s many gifts and talents, his strongest legacy is his enduring faith in us all to continue the journey that was his life’s work.
He Left Us a Rainbow: Tribute to Dave Ferguson
Economist, Colleague, Friend
I don’t even know where to begin. I first learned of Dave Ferguson when I was a junior faculty member at Stony Brook University in the Department of Economics. I taught the teaching practicum to our Ph.D. candidates with the aim of producing effective teachers of economics—this was back in the late 1990s. I wanted to do it right, and so I took advantage of the resources the university had to offer. I was pointed to the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) directed by Dave Ferguson. From the beginning, in my mind his name was synonymous with leader, mentor, teacher. Dave’s name continued to come up as a prominent academic leader, promoted to the provostial level at the university.
Years later, when I found myself in a position where I could no longer work with the dean of my college due to misaligned priorities, I was directed to Dave Ferguson by a friend, the dean of the graduate school. I was told that Dave, chair of the Department of Technology and Society, could use my experience and skills to build up his PhD program in Technology, Policy, and Innovation. As an economist who has successfully designed graduate programs, I would not only fit in substantively as a faculty member but would be an asset in the administration of the program. Dave agreed to meet with me because he recognized the value of an economist in a policy program.
I had heard a lot about him before we met—specifically that he was kind and extremely dedicated to prioritizing and maximizing the production of knowledge in higher education. We hit it off immediately over our shared values, mutual understanding of the mission of academia, and more specifically, a common vision for a successful PhD program. We wanted to produce students who would have real impact, and we wanted to be creative and inclusive. Citing my reputation as “dangerously smart,” he ended the conversation as follows: “You are convicted. I like that. I like that a lot. I am convicted too. What I ask of you is to respect the fact that I am the chair of this department. My door is always open, and I welcome your input, and even your criticism. I will process it. But ultimately, I am the chair. And I get to decide.” He had no idea how much those words meant to be. I finally found a leader who “got it.” A leader who was confident enough to take criticism and to be kind, and even grateful for it. A leader who sought out folks who might have expertise that went beyond his own if it improved the probability of success. A leader who took a chance on me, despite advice from his peers who criticized me.
Many mistook Dave’s gentle manner and kindness as weakness. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It was a sign of strength and security that he did not need to exert power and control. When he presented me to the then dean of engineering, Yacov Shamash, he was taking a risk. And Yacov, being a truly strong leader as well, ended the conversation with “Treat her well.” I am still honored to be friends with Yacov and so blessed to have been brought into their world.
Dave knew I left my previous college and dean precisely because I acknowledged that he was in charge, and he got to set the priorities. My options were to run my department aligned with those priorities or to leave. My leaving was a signal to Dave that I did understand governance and what I had control over. We understood each other. He saw me.
Dave and I became like siblings. We trusted and valued each other’s opinion more than any others. We spent hours on issues that mattered. We talked about the strengths and weaknesses of each and every graduate student in our program. We sought to break down barriers and encourage success. We made tough decisions together when it was best for the student to leave the program. And we went to battle against injustice against our students. Dave did not fight for himself. Despite attacks against his credibility and weakening of his position at Stony Brook, he smiled and said he was okay. He had his research grants. He had his colleagues around the world. At any conference even indirectly related to engineering and/or technology and society, folks asked, “Do you know Dave Ferguson?” Everyone in the field loved, admired, and respected Dave. He did not seek approval, and he did not fight for it, but he would use any leverage he had to defend students, particularly vulnerable students. We co-advised. We took up the fight together. And we won on more than one occasion. Because we were right.
Dave didn’t fight just for vulnerable students. I was not tenured which made me vulnerable as well. He knew I was the product of an imperfect system, particularly for women in economics, and this was yet another barrier. Dave fought hard for me when it really mattered. I am forever grateful to him for that. I often contemplated how hard he had to work to get to the status and prominence he did achieve. It is clear how much smarter he had to be to get a seat at the table, especially given the era he grew up in. He must have known what it means to be vulnerable himself.
One of the things that brought us together was a shared faith. We were able to take our conversations to a higher level. That is something I am not sure too many knew about Dave. We prayed together. Though we were not self-righteous, we sought to be righteous by deferring to a higher power. We wove that into our conversations and planning. We were not too proud to believe.
Trust is not easy in a political environment like the one you find in academia. I trusted Dave with my very life. He was selfless and true. The last email he sent me, which arrived the day he died, was assuring me that one of our students would be okay. We had just come out of one major battle, and found ourselves in yet another, which was the new normal under new leadership. One of the last things he was focused on was working behind the scenes to make sure that another student was treated justly and fairly. The student subsequently had a very successful defense and made us proud, even though, sadly, without Dave physically present. But he was there, very much a part of the success. And that is yet another success story, against the odds.
I still feel a close bond to my dear brother Dave. The day he died, a song started to play for me over and over—on my car radio and on Alexa, without my asking for it, Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend.” I still hear it when I think of him. He simultaneously shared a different song for the last advisee we hooded at Stony Brook University, Jonelle Bradshaw de Hernandez. Someone we both admire and love, and who made us so proud. Someone we were willing to expend enormous political capital on to ensure she had a successful defense despite unfair opposition from some members of the department.
The song she heard was Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Others believe in coincidences. We do not. The day of Dave’s memorial service at Stony Brook University was a grey misty day. I was walking over to the venue with a colleague, and I said “This is the kind of weather that calls for a rainbow. Dave is going to send us a rainbow.” A few minutes after entering the building that colleague yelled out “Deb, your rainbow. It’s your rainbow.” There was one of the brightest double rainbows I have ever seen. All in the room rushed over to the glass walls to witness it. Then provost, Michael Bernstein, mentioned it more than once, citing it as a message from Dave, as he hosted the ceremony. Dave is not truly gone. He is in a better place, and he continues to inspire us. Still, we miss his physical presence. There are very few like him.
The Gatekeeper: Honoring the Legacy of Dr. David Ferguson
Dr. Jonelle Bradshaw de Hernandez
I met David Ferguson in 2014 at Stony Brook University, but I knew of Dave before I met him. Everyone spoke about his excellence, kindness, and dedication to the fields of technology, math, and science. Most of all, I continued to hear about his brilliance, but also his humility. At the time of our first meeting I was pursuing a doctorate at another university focusing on STEM and higher education effectiveness. I met wonderful faculty members at my previous institution, but I was not happy with the program so I began to look elsewhere. Stony Brook University was not on my list. I graduated from Cornell University and Columbia Teachers College with undergraduate and graduate degrees respectively, and I was hoping to stay at a private, Ivy League institution. That all changed when I heard about the Stony Brook University College of Engineering Program in Technology and Society, and especially when I met David Ferguson.
Dave and I met and immediately connected around the pursuit of science to meet the most challenging needs of society. We were both passionate about the opportunity to utilize higher education to create a talented workforce committed to shaping a better world. Science, data, and technology were at the crux of our conversations. I did not speak to Dave about my interest in enrolling in his department after we connected around academics. Frankly, I never met anyone like him. He understood my intellectual pursuits in science and problem-solving and never questioned my academic goals. He was the first academic in my experience who did not downplay my objective of pursuing the highest and most rigorous goal of scholarly work for the advancement of democracy and society through engineering science, technology, policy, and education. He never questioned my status as a mid-career black woman pursuing the most exclusive credential of higher education—the doctorate. Dave was a fantastic listener, a quick processor of information, and a deep thinker. He saw me.
I spoke with a number of faculty in the department before I spoke with Dave. I did not want a perception that if I applied and was accepted that it was through his support alone. As a black student I was aware that although he was highly admired, he was still a black man leading a prestigious department. I did not want him to be seen as providing preferential treatment. I recognized early on that even with strong grades from top institutions and recommendations from exceptional faculty members across the nation, my student status would be questioned if I were admitted. After three faculty members from the department encouraged me to apply I spoke with Dave. I will never forget that conversation. I think it lasted a couple of hours. Synergy. We talked about philosophy, government, policy, and basic science pursuits. We spoke about the ever-increasing role of technology literacy and its application in pursuit of a better society. I told him I wanted to apply, he said he would be delighted to read my application.
I applied and was admitted and thence followed the best years of my academic life. Dave was the chair and co-advisor along with the brilliant Dr. Debra Dwyer. I learned so much from Dave, Deb, and a cast of characters that I could only describe as, well, quirky. Months before my upcoming graduation everything changed. Dave was no longer the chair, and it seemed from the outside that he was being stripped of everything he had built at Stony Brook. I asked Dave several times if he was OK, but as many of you know, he said he was fine. Modest and stalwart, even in the face of challenge. As more initiatives and more authority were taken away from him, I watched as he made sure we, his academic students, were OK. I was fine, although the politics were tough, and I was being questioned. But we managed until the unthinkable happened. I was accused of plagiarism because of a few grammatical errors in a paper. The accusation did not include the theft of ideas or philosophical views. It was designed to intimidate. It was an attack on me, and the goal was to publicly discredit and to create doubt when people saw my name. I remember the choices I was given, leave the program within months of graduation, or stay an additional three years with a full course load (despite being ABD) under different advisors, or face a public trial. I spoke with my committee, who were livid. Dave was just sad. He continually apologized and I saw in his eyes a sense of impending defeat. I looked Dave in the eye and said I am not going to hide; we do not intend to associate our names with weak scholarship. Through my tears I said let’s go for the public trial. And it was in that moment that I realized that Dave was not just brilliant, kind, and humble, but that he was strong, and because he was kind he was underestimated. His demeanor turned from impending defeat to fiery strength.
This story is long and the people who initiated this charge don’t deserve my time, but the outcome was total vindication and success. The process worked, and an anonymous committee cleared my name and allowed me to move forward. I will be forever grateful for the policy, processes, faculty, and leaders that provided students the ability to be heard and to defend. I will never forget the letter clearing me of the charge of plagiarism. It restored my faith in higher education.
But I realized it was Dave and Deb Dwyer—two academic powerhouses—who saw that this was more than an accusation. It was a process to eliminate future academic leaders of color in the science and tech space, people who were poised to make a difference. Dave spent his entire life at the gates of academic innovation and equity in science, technology, and higher education. Some people saw this as a threat. It did not matter the pedigree of the student he helped, the grades, the recommendations and the academic and professional accomplishments, he knew that they would see me as black and as not belonging. Dave made sure to hold the gates open for those who wanted to pursue our shared goals at the highest level. He recognized the talent, he saw the excellent work, and he wanted to move the field forward and ensure inclusivity.
I watched Dave hold the gate open for me as his last doctoral student. As he was being stripped of his titles and authority, he stumbled a bit, but he kept the gate open. Even as he was under the most extreme professional stress, he provided one final push and I made it through. I graduated with the support of people who believed in me and kept me going. At the end, Dave’s integrity was intact, and the people who supported me not only stood for truth, they did it because they trusted and respected Dave.
Dave died and I was devasted. Dr. Teng was a good friend of his and he joined my committee and pushed me to my limits. Sadly, he also died soon after, so I was the last Ph.D. student they saw graduate. I’m eternally grateful for their generosity. They opened the gates for scholars like me, and their legacy lives on.
With this tribute I will say only that Dave’s contribution to the field as the honest gatekeeper has been multiplied exponentially. His students, including me, are at the table moving billions of dollars (yes, billions) of resources in science, technology, and innovation for research and application pursuits. We work in higher education and in policy think tanks, and a few of us simply can’t disclose where we are because of the classification of the work. All of my cohort were exhorted by Dave to make an impactful difference, and we are his disciples in plain sight, doing just that.
So, Dave—don’t worry, your life is full of academic children where your work lives on forever. The gate is still there, but guess what: we will no longer merely open the gate; we are determined to kick it off its damn hinges.
Dr. Jonelle Bradshaw de Hernandez is a Research Assistant Professor at University of Texas, School of Information and is the Executive Director of Foundation Relations at UT Austin. She is a mom and loving wife and after living in the great state of New York is now enjoying her new life in the friendly city of Austin, Texas. She continues to work with leaders and scholars in the areas of science, technology and workforce development. She also speaks with scholars of color who left the scientific field after policies like plagiarism were weaponized to keep them out and helps them to pursue a life of purpose for society’s benefit.
Tribute in Honor and Memory of David Ferguson
On Friday July 12, 2019, Stony Brook University lost a beloved, esteemed, and prominent international leader, Dr. David L. Ferguson, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor, longtime Chair of the Department of Technology and Society, and Director of STEM Smart. Dave was my boss for 11 years, co-advisor of my doctoral dissertation, my professional mentor for 19 years, and most of all, my hero.
Although I was his protégé, Dave always treated me like an equal partner. Following his example, I try every day to emulate his leadership style: passion and compassion. He would always tell me that the best leaders are the ones who inspire a vision and then get out of the way so that people can work their own magic in realizing that vision. He always gave me space to think big and take risks in order to raise the bar of excellence. And he kept me grounded and focused by asking me a simple question from time to time: “Are you having fun, Nina?” For all these reasons, Dave will forever be my hero.
As many of you know, Dave won the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring from the White House in 1997. He donated the prize money for student scholarships. Dave was Principal Investigator on about a dozen externally sponsored awards, all to support the mission of broadening participation in STEM education. He had millions of dollars of funding from the National Science Foundation and the New York State Department of Education, as well as from various foundations and companies. He brought programs like the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP), the Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP), and Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER) to Stony Brook, distinguishing Stony Brook as a national leader for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Dave was the Chair of the Department of Technology and Society (DTS) in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences for 15 years. He was very proud of the department’s interdisciplinary research and scholarship and dedicated his life work to ensuring the department’s success by building a robust faculty. Dave was pivotal in the successful establishment of SUNY Korea; DTS was the first department to offer classes in SUNY Korea and attracted lots of students from all over Asia. Above all else, Dave loved being a professor! A true math nerd. He taught classes on decision-making, science policy, and problem-solving. His passion was helping students achieve their biggest dreams, and he was a staunch advocate for access to opportunities for advancement and success. He had an impact on tens of thousands of students over his career. Dave’s reach was so deep and so wide that I vow to do my part to honor his memory by ensuring his life’s work continues to grow and flourish.
Dave’s aura radiated a color that was not of this world. His frequency vibrated gently, yet he inspired an unshakable confidence and security in all who knew him. He had an ethereal generosity that permeated his every thought and his every action. As we each reflect on our own special relationship with Dave, I know we share a deep sorrow, an immense gratitude, and an infinite pride for having his magical presence in our lives. Dave’s magic is most certainly eternal.
In Dave’s honor and memory, Nina Maung-Gaona
A Tribute for David Ferguson
Office of the Dean, College of Arts and Sciences,
Stony Brook University
I had the pleasure and privilege of working with Dave Ferguson for more than seven years. I miss him very much. He was truly unique, epitomizing the kind of authentic and strategic leadership that is too rare. He was kind, yet he would not hesitate to be frank and get his point across. He was thoughtful in his words and actions, and always made one feel like their opinion mattered. In all my years working with Dave, I never heard him raise his voice. He was respectful in his demeanor and behavior and always took the time to listen. Even if he was having a stressful day, Dave’s first question to others was “How can I make your day better?”
Dave had a knack for surrounding himself with colleagues who shared his values and approached situations as he would—with compassion, discernment, and kindness. He demonstrated that you didn’t need to be loud and abrasive to make an impact, and I, and many colleagues, did our best to copy his example.
Dave’s accomplishments over his long career as a scholar, teacher, and administrator were far greater than most of us could fathom. However, Dave rarely spoke about himself, though he would be the first to congratulate someone and celebrate the achievements of others. You could sense his true pleasure when students or colleagues succeeded. Dave was a very genuine and generous person who is deeply missed as a colleague and a friend.
That generosity and un-hierarchical sensibility, so often cited by anyone who worked with Dave, can overshadow the fact that he was an immensely effective, strategic, and successful academic leader who generated and oversaw millions of dollars in external funding, primarily to support minority students in STEM fields. My own sense is that the two qualities, his generosity and his effectiveness, were inextricable and constituted his “superpower.” In any project it was clear that Dave listened to everyone and was sincerely interested in their perspectives and experiences, regardless of their status. Like a true scientist, he did not exclude any reasonable point of view or possible solution that might contribute to the overarching goal, which was always to support and empower students. He would ask “What is your hypothesis?” and he was not afraid to experiment and take up the ideas and suggestions of others. He truly enjoyed learning from other people, other disciplines, other cultures, and he was energized, and not intimidated, by the originality and creativity that he found all around him. Unsurprisingly, he attracted similarly generous, creative, and confident people to his teams.
The lessons I learned from Dave, about listening, respecting diverse perspectives, and always remembering the core mission of higher education, have deeply impacted my current work today as the Dean of Arts and Sciences’ liaison to 10 university research departments and centers. This position requires listening, synthesizing, and navigating and representing honestly diverse constituencies with sensitivity, good humor, and an open-minded spirit. Dave’s example has been a lasting gift that I will always carry with me.
Memorial Tribute for David Ferguson
Patricia Aceves, Ed.D.
Assistant Provost & Director (Retired), Center for Excellence in Learning & Teaching (CELT),
Stony Brook University
Isaac Newton must have had someone like Dave Ferguson in mind when he wrote, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” Dave’s vision, dedication, and advocacy for teaching and learning at Stony Brook University brought the first Center for Excellence in Learning & Teaching (CELT) to life in 1998, and he served on the search committee that hired me in 2009. For the next ten years he was a mentor, advocate, and friend to me and the Center; his door was as open as his willingness to share his wisdom.
I recall fondly several anecdotes about Dave that highlight how he made the world a better place. During the interview dinner with my search committee, I listened intently as Dave told a story about an experience he had as a grad student; and with a straight face, his deep, solemn voice, and not a hint of what was coming, he delivered one of the funniest punchlines I’d ever heard. The group erupted in laughter and I laughed so hard I had tears running down my face. Over the years, I found his humor was always at the ready when needed.
I served with Dave on a number of standing committees and was always amazed at how he kept up with his busy administrative, teaching, and research schedule and still found time for service. In one such committee meeting, the group was deep in conversation around a sticking point regarding how best to move forward on a particular issue. On this day, Dave did not appear to be engaged in the conversation and when I glanced over at him, he sat with his head bowed and his eyes closed. But when a question arose that we struggled with, Dave piped up with an insightful response as if he had been pondering the question all along. In that moment, I saw but a glimpse of his genius and the Superman ability he had to juggle his many passions and responsibilities.
In the last encounter I had with Dave a few months before he passed, I’d asked him to speak at a CELT ribbon cutting ceremony, as he was the founder of our Center, but he graciously declined. He stated that he wanted me and our staff to be the focus of the event. Even though we were standing on his shoulders, he was comfortable in the knowledge that his work would carry on in the hands of the next generation of passionate teachers and educators. When you spent time with Dave Ferguson, he made you feel as if you and your cause were the only things that were important, and I have no doubt that was true.
Memorial Tribute for David Ferguson
STEM Smart Co-Director, Retired, Department of Technology and Society,
Stony Brook University
Since Dave’s passing on July 12, 2020, not a day has gone by when I haven’t thought of him. Dave was many things to me: professor, mentor, cheerleader, traveling companion, and friend. He was the most self-effacing man I have ever known, and he was also one of the smartest men I have ever known. I owe my career in academia to Dave. It was Dave who gave me permission to pursue the many grant opportunities that led to the creation of the STEM Smart program and its myriad opportunities in an all-encompassing variety of STEM majors.
Today, there are hundreds of students of color and from underserved communities who are now holders of advanced degrees due to the programs that Dave created with a little help from his friends. Dave’s work helped to change the face of science and engineering and bring about an increase in diversity in the Academy. My interactions with Dave occupied just a small space of his presence, but he had the ability to make you feel like you were the only one who mattered when you talked with him. Whenever Dave heard news about the accomplishments of our STEM Smart students his face would light up with joy, and I believe that is a measure of his greatness. He wouldn’t think of taking credit for that student’s achievements—he was just joyful that another student had enjoyed academic success.
Tonight, I’ll raise a Heineken in his honor and memory.