Thursday, December 22, 2011

Garrison Roots, We Will Always Miss You

Garrison,Visual Arts Complex Dedication Ceremony. Sept. 2010

The Department of Art and Art History is mourning the passing of Garrison Roots. He was our chair, a professor of sculpture, an active practicing artist, and all around sterling human being. While his death was not entirely unexpected, the loss we feel today is very deep.

Garrison guided the department as we moved from an amorphous program plan to our newly constructed Visual Arts Complex. While our fabulous new state-of-the-art home is a physical monument to his achievements, Garrison's less visible contributions to the soul of our department were even more important. He was a unifying force who chose to see the best in every human being. He gave everyone a forum to speak and the agency to act, which made us all feel like invested members of a community, even part of a family.

Personally, I appreciate so much the kind support and great humor he always shared with me. I tried not to abuse the open door policy in his office, but his approachability made it so easy to just drop by to say hello or bring up any issues on my mind. And while it's pretty unusual for anyone to look forward to staff meetings, we always did because they were productive yet full of laughter and good cheer.

Garrison was a humble person who always insisted on sharing credit whenever he was praised. I wish he were here now to protest, saying that our new building was the result of the work of many people, and that our department is where we are today because the faculty and staff have made it that way. True, true, Garrison, but these things do not happen without great leadership. We thank you, and we will always remember you with much love, respect, and gratitude.

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