Remember all faculty members like ‘Randy’

Last Monday, invited faculty, staff, and guests gathered in Rangos Ballroom to attend “Remembering Randy,” the university’s official memorial service for Randy Pausch, Carnegie Mellon professor-turned-headliner in the wake of the one-year anniversary of his “Last Lecture.” The event was announced in two separate university press releases — a Sept. 2 article and a follow-up Sept. 16 media advisory. Thanks to the great publicity of this event, members of the Carnegie Mellon community and beyond were able to take part in the event and remember Randy in their own ways.

But Pausch’s is not the only absence the university is experiencing this year. Elizabeth Jones, head of the department of biological sciences and member of the faculty for 34 years, passed away this June. Jones was an internationally renowned geneticist and one of the original pioneers of the undergraduate research program. Because of her commitment to education, thousands of undergraduates now have the opportunity to do substantive research alongside professors of Jones’ caliber.

A symposium in Jones’ honor is scheduled for Oct. 15, in which nationally recognized scientists whose work has been inspired by Jones will discuss their educational and professional pursuits. However, aside from the original Jun. 13 university press release announcing Jones’ passing, the symposium has not been widely publicized. Some of Jones’ colleagues admitted that they felt the symposium was being unfairly overshadowed by “Remembering Randy.”

We believe that these educators have made equally valuable contributions in their own fields as Randy Pausch did, and that they should be recognized as such. Because the additional publicity made such a difference in how, when, and how many members of the campus community convened to honor a distinguished professor’s life, we hope that, in the future, all faculty members who pass away will receive this same consideration, so their respective students and colleagues can honor them with the same respect.