Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.

Sad News

That was the subject of an e-mail I received today from Berkeley’s Chancellor. I wasn’t expecting the sad news to involve anyone I had heard of.

Dear colleagues,

We are deeply saddened to inform you that our colleague, Dean Richard Newton, passed away this morning from pancreatic cancer.

Truth be told, I didn’t even know who the Dean of my college was until last Fall when one of my friends pointed out that he was going to be on our flight to Australia. Apparently, he was from Melbourne.

I only saw the Dean once after that, but it was one of my more memorable experiences as a graduate student. Dean Newton gave a talk about Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat, and it was one of the most inspirational talks I had heard about globalization and how to respond to it. It also went against conventional wisdom and talked about how community and location may be more relevant under the flat world model. I can’t paraphrase Dean Newton’s ideas as well as he could state them, so I found his speech online. The first 1/4 of the clip is introduction and about the history of Berkeley engineering.

An abstract is given here, as well as the Dean’s message from the Spring 2006 issue of Forefront.

Rest in peace.

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