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Susquehanna University Mourns Death of Professor Richard Kozlowski

Published on July 12, 2011

Richard W.H. “Koz” Kozlowski

Richard_KozlowskiRichard “Koz” Kozlowski ’75, longtime professor of physics at Susquehanna, died on July 12, 2011, in Arizona. He was 57.

Known as “Koz” by colleagues and students, he was a beloved teacher, known for his accessibility and his willingness to serve as a mentor to his own students, as well as those from other disciplines. His commitment to teaching was recognized in 1989 when he received the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching (now The Susquehanna University Award for Distinguished Teaching). A year earlier, he was recipient of The John C. Horn Distinguished Service Lectureship.

Also a disciplined researcher, Koz is credited with Susquehanna’s involvement in the University of Arizona’s NASA Joint Venture project, which partnered Susquehanna faculty with University of Arizona astronomers. He often took students to Arizona to participate in the research.

He was the consummate faculty member, who believed in putting students first. Koz’s approach earned him the respect of his students and his faculty colleagues. He was beloved and his death creates a void for the university community.

Calling Koz a classic faculty member, Lucien T. Winegar, dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences, said he was “an especially dedicated teacher, an exceptionally active researcher, and a tireless advocate for the academic program and shared faculty governance. Most importantly to me, he was a member of our community who recognized that Susquehanna was first and foremost an academic institution. As a faculty member, he was the kind of role model that can continue to be an inspiration to us all.”

Samya Bano Zain, assistant professor of physics, called Koz an “institution within an institution,” remembering him as a fierce advocate for shared governance and academic quality. “He had a way with words. No matter what was going on, he made you feel better.”

Former student Jeff Ries ’86 said his onetime teacher and longtime friend left a lasting impression. He first encountered Koz when he visited campus to register for classes. Hesitant about a daunting class schedule, he asked Koz, who served as his advisor, if he believed it was too much. “He told me ‘you can do anything you want in life, you just do it.’ All through my life, I’ve taken that approach. Koz provided me with guidance for a career, but more importantly, for the overall game of life.”

Professor of Physics Fred Grosse and Professor Emeritus of Chemistry Tom McGrath recalled Koz as a onetime student-turned well-respected colleague. “When he came back to campus to teach, I retired as department chair and put him in charge,” Fred said . “He then took me by the hand and directed me toward astronomy and the program at the University of Arizona. … It provided a great opportunity for a small school like Susquehanna to be involved in world-class research.”

Tom McGrath said Koz was a good student who was a loner as an undergraduate, but became very available to students once he stood at the head of the classroom. “He was a down-to-earth person who always had time for his students.”

The original “knowledge zone,” a space where students and faculty could interact with each other, can be credited largely to Koz, according to Don Housley, who served as dean of the former School of Arts and Sciences. “He accepted them (students) where they were and encouraged them to grow. He was somewhat unorthodox in his approach, but he was honest and unpretentious and spent a lot of time with students. And many of his former students have met with success.”

Information about memorial arrangements will be shared with the university community when it becomes available.


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