Monday, August 26, 2013

The Last Time I Saw Her -- Remembering Dr. Priscilla Clarkson, the Dean of Commonwealth College

This afternoon, I attended a lecture by Professor Ved Prakash, in the beautiful new Integrated Sciences Building at UMass Amherst, with one of my doctoral students who is from India. The lecture was on Indian Higher Education System and its Challenges in the Context of Globalization. I saw quite a few administrators in the audience, and our distinguished guest was hosted by our Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy. The lecture was very interesting and well-attended and I took many notes. The reception that followed enabled further discussion. Since it was a nice day I walked home back from UMass through the woods and fields -- the locals know this pleasant route. Then, in checking messages I was stunned -- Dr. Priscilla Clarkson, an amazing researcher and the Dean of Commonwealth College, died yesterday of breast cancer, which she had been long battling. UMass issued a release on this very sad news, as did Commonwealth College. The lovely collage is from the Commonwealth College website. And just yesterday, my husband and I took a walk on the UMass campus specifically to see the beautiful new Commonwealth College buildings with classrooms, offices, and even dormitories. And, of course, we talked about Priscilla! The last time that I saw and spoke with Priscilla was on April 14, 2013, at the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society induction ceremony, which was led by Professor Don Katzner of the Department of Economics. Priscilla was recognized for her service with a lovely bouquet of flowers and also gave an award to Dr. Patty Freedson, the chair of the Kinesiology Department. April 14 was the birthday of my dissertation advisor at Brown University, Dr. Stella Dafermos, and she also succumbed to the same illness as Priscilla at age 49. The photo below I am including in this post since I still cannot believe this news. I will miss our conversations, Priscilla, as well as your leadership and kindness. Thanks for all that you have done for science, for women, and for students of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Dr. Priscilla Clarkson is seated in the front row with the bouquet. I was hoping to see Dr. Clarkson at some ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Commonwealth College new complex of buildings or at some pleasant UMass activity or event. Rest in peace, great one -- you made a difference and you will be missed!