University Community Comes Together to Honor Faculty Members
Students, faculty, and staff recently gathered to remember several faculty members who passed away in the past year. They shared their tributes and memories of the professors who inspired them as students, colleagues, and friends.
April 12, 2023
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
When Bryan Cadavos '23 first came to the University of New Haven, he soon found a mentor in Kento Yasuhara, Ph.D. He says Dr. Yasuhara was someone who could offer comfort and make him smile.
Cadavos, who serves as president of the University's Asian Student Union, which Dr. Yasuhara advised, credits his mentor with helping him to get involved on campus. He says Dr. Yasuhara provided great guidance to the ASU community, teaching him valuable lessons that he has already passed on to his peers. Cadavos recently shared his fond memories of Dr. Yasuhara with the University community.
"One thing he'd do was progressive muscle relaxation, and as an academic peer mentor, I taught that to my students," explained Cadavos, a genetics and biotechnology major. "It helped them to relax. Dr. Yasuhara also got me excited about Japanese pop culture and anime. He made it fun and memorable."
'I’m so grateful I had the chance to meet him'
Dr. Yasuhara passed away earlier this year, and he was one of several faculty members the University community recently gathered to remember. As part of the memorial service, faculty, staff, and students shared their memories of the colleagues, professors, mentors, and friends who passed away in the past year.
Cadavos's classmate and fellow ASU member Len Diamond '25 also shared his memories of Dr. Yasuhara, a psychology professor described by his colleagues as "kind and patient." A talented cellist and chef, Dr. Yasuhara was also a loving and committed husband and father.
Diamond, sergeant in arms for the ASU, is half Japanese. He says he joined the organization because he wanted to stay connected to his Asian culture and heritage. Diamond still does the stress-relief practices he learned from Dr. Yasuhara, crediting them with helping him to relax as he prepares for finals. He has many fond memories of his interactions with Dr. Yasuhara.
"I got to chat with him in Japanese, and I enjoyed getting to know him better," said Diamond, a mathematics major. "He made ASU a better home for all of us. I'm so grateful I had the chance to meet him and have conversations with him in Japanese."
'A life well-lived'
As part of the Faculty Memorial Service, the University community also remembered Charlie Coleman, Howard Harris, Craig Parker, Anshuman Prasad, Baldev Sachdeva, and Thurmon Whitley, beloved faculty members who inspired and made an impact on the lives of countless students.
Many of their former students shared their memories of their professors. Among them was Bobby McDonald '86, '95 M.S., now himself a professor at the University. He shared a tribute to Charlie Coleman, one of the professors who, he says, has informed his own teaching.
"I saw him years later on campus when I was a professor, and I asked him to join me," recalled Prof. McDonald, a lecturer of criminal justice. "He lit up, and we talked for 45 minutes. We had a wonderful conversation, and it was a great way for me to tell him that he'd made an impact on me. He was a beloved professor."
Cynthia Conrad, Ph.D., shared her own memories of Coleman, whom she met more than 20 years ago. She says she knew immediately that she wanted to work with him, and, when she did, he became her mentor.
"I learned so much from him," she said. "If we measure a life well-lived by what we leave behind, Charlie had a very successful life. He took special interest in guiding students in public service, and he as a remarkable teacher. I miss him very deeply."
'A caring mentor'
Dozens of Chargers listened to the heartfelt remembrances of these remarkable faculty members, who were described as committed educators, mentors, and scholars. In addition to a blessing and a poem that began the ceremony, those whose lives had been touched by these educators offered their memories of them, sharing how they impacted their lives, and how they touched the lives of their students.
For Timothy Palmbach, J.D., the ceremony was an opportunity to offer a tribute to Howard Harris, a scholar who, he said, was passionate about research and who loved challenging ideas and teaching.
"We have a have an award for high-achieving students in the Lee College, and it's very fitting that the honor bears his name," said Dr. Palmbach. "He was a great colleague and a very good man, someone we all respected."
Cassandra Sedelmaier '09, '13 M.S., a new criminal justice lecturer at the University, shared her memories of Craig Parker, an educator who inspired her as a student and as a professor. She says her first impression of him was that he was a "gripping speaker" in the classroom. She recalled that he built a sense of community in the classroom, encouraging his students – including Sedelmaier – to work as a team.
"He was a caring mentor who took the time to listen to us and advise us," she said. "He took genuine joy in the success of his students and in the happiness of those around him. As I teach my own students in Kaplan 203, where I first met him, I remember him."
'They were great people'
Anshuman Prasad made a meaningful impact on the life of Khadija Al Arkoubi, Ph.D., an associate professor of management, beginning when he hired her more than a decade ago. He was someone who she remembers fondly – someone who generously invited her and her family to his home for dinner and who was a creative thinker.
"Students remember him as someone who loved reading and who inspired them to read," she said. "He was generous with his time, and he was known for his kindness and humility. He avoided the spotlight."
Jim Uebelacker, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of mathematics, knew both Baldev Sachdeva and Thurmon Whitley. He worked closely with them for many years in the Mathematics Department, and he credits them with creating the student-centered and cooperative department that continues to serve students today. He explained that both educators strongly believed not only in the importance of mathematics, but in colleagueship. They were, he said, student-focused leaders who believed in working together.
"Both of them had strong relationships with their students and their colleagues," said Dr. Uebelacker. "They were both optimistic yet realistic. They were great people, and they made the world – and the University – a better place."