Arnold Cogswell, a longtime member of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees, died Feb. 12. Cogswell joined the board in 1961, and served on many committees and Institute advisory groups. He is remembered for his dedication to Rensselaer, his passion for education and the arts, and his selfless devotion to his family and community service.
A graduate of Brooks School in North Andover, Mass., Cogswell served in the Army in Germany during World War II. After graduating from Yale University, Cogswell quickly became a leader in the Capital Region community.
An enthusiastic proponent of education and the arts, he served as director and president of the Albany Medical Center; governor and treasurer of Union University; board member of the Community Foundation; president of the Wildwood Board; and board member of the Albany Institute of History and Art. Cogswell won numerous awards over his career for his many years of community service.
An active contributor to finding ways to enrich the college experience for Rensselaer students, Cogswell established the Arnold and Jesse Cogswell Another Chance Scholarship for undergraduate students. In addition, in 1999 he headed an Athletics Task Force at Rensselaer, recommending that women’s ice hockey was a “clear choice” for Division I status.
The family has requested that those who wish to remember Cogswell do so through contributions to the Albany Medical Center Hospital Foundation, 43 New Scotland Avenue, Albany, NY 12208, in his memory.
Celebrated glass researcher and emeritus professor Robert Doremus, who remained an active and important voice in the Rensselaer community well beyond his retirement from the Institute in 2003, passed away suddenly on Jan. 30, 2008, while vacationing in Florida. He was 80 years old.
“Through interactions with Bob Doremus for the past 37 years, my life was enriched professionally and privately,” said Minoru Tomozawa, professor of materials science and engineering at Rensselaer and colleague of Doremus. “I am sure that many others, faculty, students, and staff, who were fortunate enough to have interacted with Bob would feel the same way. He was a great teacher, scholar, mentor, and colleague. Above all he was a great human being. He had a very successful life.”
A prolific writer and esteemed materials scientist, Doremus published several books and more than 250 publications over the course of his career. His research entailed glass science, ceramics, crystal growth, bone implants, the growth of kidney stones, and the optical properties of metallic particles and film. Doremus held the title of New York State Science and Technology Foundation Professor of Glass and Ceramics until his retirement. He was
also a member of the American Ceramic Society, the Materials Research Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a fellow of the American Ceramic Society.
After a 15-year career in research with General Electric, Doremus joined Rensselaer’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering in 1971. A popular and dynamic instructor, he received several awards including the Outstanding Educator Award from Rensselaer in 1978, Outstanding Educator Award from the American Ceramic Society in 1995, and the Trustees Teaching Award from Rensselaer in 1997.
Doremus chaired the department of materials science and engineering from 1986 to 1995. Despite retiring in 2003 and an ongoing battle with cancer, Doremus continued to play an active role in student advising and department research activities.
Doremus earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado in 1950, a master’s degree from the University of Illinois in 1951, and a pair of doctorates from the University of Illinois and Carnegie Mellon University in 1953 and 1956.
He is survived by his wife, Germaine, their four children, Marc, Elaine, Carole, and Natalie, and a sister, Ann Nicholson.
Myra Williams, assistant director of academic and research computing and manager of the Mobile Computing Program and Rensselaer Campus Computer Store, died Feb. 13. Williams joined Rensselaer in 1987 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she also had studied. Williams was a leader of all aspects of the Mobile Computing Program, and is remembered as one of the people who contributed to its rise to national prominence.
Williams oversaw the growth and renovations to the Rensselaer Campus Computer Store, and was active in the Campus Computer Resellers Alliance (CCRA), serving as council chair for 2002-2003 and chair of the Partnership Development and Nominating Committees. In 2003, the CCRA made a donation to Rensselaer’s Habitat for Humanity chapter in recognition of Williams’ distinguished service.
She served on advisory boards of many vendors and distributors, including Apple, IBM, Dell, Ingram Micro, and Lenovo. She presented at numerous conferences, including the ACM’s SIGUCCS, Educom, EduCause, IBM/Lenovo’s ThinkTank, and NERCOMP. Williams was also very active on the Rensselaer
campus. She participated in Accepted Students Day and Student Orientation, making presentations to both parents and students. She consulted with faculty about academic software needs, and collaborated with the Rensselaer Union Bookstore to ensure the campus was always best served.
Through the Rensselaer Campus Computer Store, she built campus awareness of computing standards and generally supported the use of technology in learning. She was a strong advocate for interactive learning and did not consider technology an end in itself, but a means of enriching the educational experience.
A celebration of Williams’ life will be held at the University Parish of Christ Sun of Justice at the RPI Chapel and Cultural Center, 2125 Burdett Ave., Troy, on Saturday, March 8, at 1 p.m. All members of the Rensselaer community are welcome to attend.
Williams leaves behind her husband, Geoffrey Williams, university archivist at the University at Albany, her brother, Ray Carlson, and her sister, Catherine Coleman.