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The Blue & Gray Press | August 25, 2019

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UMW honors two faculty, student who passed away

UMW honors two faculty, student who passed away


University of Mary Washington students and faculty have come together to honor two faculty members and a student who passed away the previous semester and over winter break.

Two memorials took place over the weekend, one in the foyer of duPont Hall on Friday and the other in the Rappahannock Grand Ballroom of the Jepson Alumni Executive Center Saturday. The memorials honored the lives of faculty members JeanAnn Dabb, who taught art history and had previously been chair of the art history department, and Neil Tibert, who taught geology in the earth and environmental science department. Both passed away the previous semester and were longtime professors at the university.

Dabb passed away on Oct. 20 from cancer and had taught art history at UMW since 1992. Tibert died on Dec. 20 from a brief illness, according to UMW’s faculty newsletter. He had taught geology at UMW since 2003.

A selection of Dabb’s artwork is featured in an exhibition that began on Thursday, Jan. 14 called “Awe and Wonder” at duPont Gallery. The exhibit, featuring paintings, mosaics and pottery, will continue until Feb. 26.

The exhibit also contained artwork from people who knew Dabb, and included brief but kind messages regarding Dabb’s influence on them. Dabb received the Grellet C. Simpson and the Mary W. Pinschmidt awards in 2009. The Simpson award, according to the University of Mary Washington’s website, is UMW’s most prestigious award for excellence in undergraduate teaching.

Tibert, similarly, was featured in a story on UMW’s website before his death about his research analyzing sediments along the Potomac River. The research, which also was conducted with a few students in the program, was meant to examine the impact of sea-level rise in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Tibert also was a talented musician and played guitar, according to a story in The Blue & Gray Press in 2013.

While faculty and students have taken steps to remember Dabb and Tibert, students are also honoring a student who passed away at the beginning of December. Sophomore Stefan Sacoto was found dead on Friday, Dec. 4 in his off-campus residence, according to a school-wide email sent from the Office of Student Affairs.

Sacoto was originally from Lovettsville, Va. According to the email, Sacoto was a member of Psi Upsilon, a fraternity at UMW and loved music.

The Phi Delta chapter of Psi Upsilon, the chapter at UMW, began a GoFundMe campaign approximately a month ago to plant a tree on UMW’s campus to honor Sacoto’s life. The campaign, also featured on the fraternity’s national Facebook page, has raised $5,005 of its $10,000 goal.

“No one can prepare you for the loss of someone you love. Nothing can be said that will heal the pain we feel from our fallen brother,” the page said. “Stefan Joseph Sacoto was taken too soon from us, but his memory will live on forever.”

Psi Upsilon has proposed the tree to UMW administration and are awaiting response, according to the group when contacted on Facebook.