Monday, July 23, 2007

In Memoriam, Ray von Dran, Dean of SU's School of Information Studies

Many in the Syracuse University community were shocked this morning to hear that Dr. Raymond von Dran, Dean of the School of Information Studies, had died suddenly this morning in New York City at New York Presbyterian Hospital. (He had taken ill over the weekend.) Ray leaves behind his wife, Dr. Gisela von Dran, and a daughter, as well as many colleagues and friends.

Ray came to SU in 1995 after being Dean of School of Library and Information Sciences, University of North Texas. In August -- yes, in just a few days -- Ray was stepping down as Dean and was going on a year's sabbatical. After traveling extensively for a year with his wife, he was going to return in August 2008 to SU to teach, do research, and assist with fund-raising activities.

Under Ray's leadership, the School of Information Studies grew and flourished. The number of faculty increased as did the number of students. The number of courses also grew and new Certificates Advance Studies were implemented, including one in digital libraries. Within the last couple of years, the School had moved into a beautifully renovated building on campus, right on the quad (prime real estate).

Ray was a delight. Always smiling...always with a kind word. I last saw him on June 20 on a flight to Washington, D.C. Ray waited for me after we deplaned and we were able to chat for a few minutes as we walked to get our baggage. He was very happy and was so looking forward to his sabbatical. It sounded like the perfect vacation, and now one that he will not be taking.

Ray's death reminds me of two lessons. First, be sure to tell those people around you what they mean to you. Thankfully, at his going away reception in May, I did tell Ray about the positive impact he had on my life. Second, don't put off those things you want to do. Tomorrow may never come.

Related post from Remaining Relevant.

Addendum (7/26/2007): The family is not planning to hold calling hours or a formal service. There will be a memorial service on campus (SU) in September. In the meantime, there will be "Our Sorrowing for Ray von Dran” on July 30 in the I-School at 4 pm. The following day, which would have been Ray's 61st birthday, there will be “A Celebration of Ray’s Life” from 3 - 5 p.m. in Helroy. Both events will allow for memories to be shared and sorrow expressed with each other and the family.

Cards may be sent to the family in care of the I-School (c/o SU School of Information Studies, 343 Hinds Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244)
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1 comment:

dkemper said...

Jill - Sorry to read about the passing of your friend and colleague, Dr. Raymond von Dran. He sounded like a real good guy - preparing for his sabbatical!

I think the life lessons you derived from his passing are valuable. In recent months, I've lost a few good family friends and church members (all while I was relocating to DC to work). In those moments of grief and disbelief, we realize that we should always tell someone what they mean to us and to live happily every single day no matter what, because, as you said, tomorrow may never come.