In Memoriam: Gordon Aubrecht

BY MARTIN KICH

Gordon Aubrecht passed away at age 73 on Monday, November 21. Gordon was the long-time President of the advocacy chapter at Ohio State University. For almost a decade, I had had contact with him through the Ohio Conference of AAUP. But our acquaintance went much farther back than that.

Gordon and I were founding members of the Association for the University Regional Campuses of Ohio (AURCO), which is approaching the 25th anniversary of its founding. About five or six years ago at AURCO’s annual meeting, we happened to eat lunch together, and as we were looking around the room, we turned to each other and said simultaneously, “My God, we’re the last two left!” To be honest, my exclamation was more vulgar than Gordon’s, and to be more precise, we were the last two founding members of the association who had still remained active in it.

I am not sure how much I realized it until I learned of the terrible medical diagnosis that he had received, but Gordon was more than just a recurring presence in my professional life. Knowing him for a quarter of a century has very much contributed to how I have come to view our profession and the issues that we face.

Over those years, I saw firsthand Gordon’s commitment to developing and sustaining AURCO, which was been demonstrated in many large and small ways. It never seemed to matter to him whether the contribution that he was making was something that was likely to get noticed. More recently, of course, I also become more pointedly aware of his career-long commitment to promoting and defending AAUP’s core principles. And I also know that he had been equally active in several discipline-related associations.

But beyond those very significant professional contributions, it is very clear to anyone who knew him, even as casually as I got to know him, that Gordon had sustained a truly extraordinary commitment to and enthusiasm for teaching. It is said that good teachers change people’s lives, and Gordon very clearly changed more lives over the last 40-plus years of teaching at OSU’s Marion Campus than he or anyone else could possibly count. Most of us find considerable satisfaction in what we do, but only a few of us, like Gordon, seem to find a vocation, in the truest sense, in being a teacher.

gordon-aubrecht

These are two obituaries that provide more details about Gordon’s life and accomplishments.

The first is from the Marion Star:

Longtime Ohio State Marion physics professor, Dr. Gordon J. Aubrecht, II, 73, passed away at his home in Delaware Monday afternoon, Nov. 21. He’d been informed that he had untreatable cancer in late September.

In an e-mail to faculty and staff, Dr. Aubrecht said he was shocked by the diagnosis, noting he’d only taken one sick day in his 43 years of teaching at Ohio State Marion.  He received his doctorate from Princeton University in 1971.

Aubrecht received Ohio State’s Faculty Award for Distinguished University Service in 2008.

“Gordon was dedicated to his students and shared his love of physics with hundreds of them through his tenure here,” said Ohio State Marion dean and director, Dr. Gregory S. Rose, “but he was also a scholar in all senses of  the word, publishing numerous papers and writing a textbook titled “Energy” in 2005. We will miss his intellect and personal energy on this campus.”

A close friend, Dr. Brian McEnnis called Aubrecht “a driving force” and “a central figure” in shaping Ohio State’s regional campuses. He helped set up a regional campus council that represented the interests of the regional campuses to Ohio State’s central administration. McEnnis said it was Aubrecht who insisted that faculty on the regional campuses be held to the same standards of research and scholarship as those employed in Columbus.

In addition to his teaching duties, Aubrecht was active in many organizations including the American Physical  Society, the Association for University Regional Campuses of Ohio, and the American Association of University Professors. In fact, at the time of his passing, he was the president of The Ohio State University Chapter of the  AAUP. Fellow member Dr. Douglas Macbeth called him “a tireless defender of academic freedom and an energetic participant in University governance.” Macbeth noted that “Gordon was passionate about physics and physics education.  He shared his knowledge beyond the classroom in his role as a public   intellectual.”

For many years, Aubrecht was involved in helping high school and middle school science teachers develop an inquiry­based model for science education. He was working on writing a book on the subject at the time of his death.

Ohio State Marion has established a fund to name the physics lab in the new science and engineering building rising on the campus in honor of Aubrecht. hose interested in contributing may do so by sending a check to the Ohio State University at Marion Development Office, 1465 Mount Vernon Avenue, Marion, OH 43302 made out to the Ohio State University Foundation, fund number 315649. Online contributions may also be made at www.giveto.osu.edu and designating fund  315649.

Aubrecht’s burial will be Wednesday, Nov. 23, in Gambier.

The second obituary is from the website of the Physics Department at Ohio State:

Longtime Ohio State Marion physics professor, Dr. Gordon J. Aubrecht, II, passed away at his home in Delaware, Ohio, Monday afternoon, November 21st. He’d been informed that he had untreatable cancer in late September. In an email to faculty and staff, Dr. Aubrecht said he was shocked by the diagnosis, noting he’d only taken one sick day in his 43 years of teaching at Ohio State Marion. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1971. He was 73 years old at the time of his death.

“Gordon was dedicated to his students and shared his love of physics with hundreds of them through his tenure here,” said Ohio State Marion dean and director, Dr. Gregory S. Rose, “but he was also a scholar in all senses of the word, publishing numerous papers and writing a textbook titled Energy in 2005. We will miss his intellect and personal energy on this campus.”

His close friend, Dr. Brian McEnnis called Aubrecht “a driving force” and “a central figure” in shaping Ohio State’s regional campuses. He helped set up a regional campus council that represented the interests of the regional campuses to Ohio State’s central administration. McEnnis said it was Dr. Aubrecht who insisted that faculty on the regional campuses be held to the same standards of research and scholarship as those employed in Columbus.

Dr. Aubrecht received Ohio State’s Faculty Award for Distinguished University Service in 2008.

In addition to his teaching duties, Dr. Aubrecht was active in many organizations including the American Physical Society, the Association for University Regional Campuses of Ohio, and the American Association of University Professors. In fact, at the time of his passing, he was the president of The Ohio State University Chapter of the AAUP. Fellow member, Dr. Douglas Macbeth called him “a tireless defender of academic freedom and an energetic participant in University governance.” Dr. Macbeth noted that “Gordon was passionate about physics and physics education. He shared his knowledge beyond the classroom in his role as a public intellectual.”

For many years, Dr. Aubrecht was involved in helping high school and middle school science teachers develop an inquiry-based model for science education. He was working on writing a book on the subject at the time of his death.

Ohio State Marion has established a fund to name the physics lab in the new science and engineering building rising on the campus in honor of Dr. Aubrecht. A number of organizations, former students, and colleagues have contributed to the effort. Those interested in contributing may do so by sending a check to the Ohio State University at Marion Development Office, 1465 Mount Vernon Avenue, Marion, OH 43302 made out to the Ohio State University Foundation, fund number 315649. Online contributions may also be made at http://www.giveto.osu.edu and designating fund 315649.

Dr. Aubrecht will be laid to rest on Wednesday, November 23rd in a green burial service in Gambier, Ohio.

3 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Gordon Aubrecht

  1. I am deeply saddened to learn today of Gordon’s death. He set a fabulous example of how to be a true academic. He counseled me many times on dealings with OSU’s administration during my brief time in the University Senate. He will be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him and by countless others who will continue to benefit from his tireless work over the decades.

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