Arthur Daniel Gorman
October 31, 1946 – December 16, 2014
At 2pm on Sunday, March 8, 2015, a memorial service was held for Art Gorman at Colton Chapel. Here you will find the Faculty Memorial Resolution in memory of Art, along with personal reflections shared by some of Art’s friends and colleagues at the service.
If you have words or images to add to this page, please forward them to Derek Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org). Memorial contributions can be sent to Mid-Atlantic Border Collie Rescue. A separate memorial fund at Lafayette is also being established.
Remarks from the Service
From Justin Corvino:
I never thought I would be in this position. When I met Art about 26 years ago, and when I joined him as a colleague about 11 years ago, I think it’s fair to say he could have done any number of pushups or pull-ups with me hanging on his back, and there’s probably a mathematical metaphor in there too. I can’t recount the number of times he poked his head into my office and exhorted me to get in shape. I’m not getting any younger! I took his advice, and that made him happy. It wasn’t the first time.
As this is a memorial service, I will share what I want to be my lasting memory of Art. It’s not my most recent memory; rather, it’s the first, from about 26 years ago. He was about my age then—a fact that isn’t lost on me. His daughter Mary sat in front of me in French class over at Easton High School. I remember her fondly—she was smart and fiercely unique. She said I should go say hi to her dad, who had just moved over to the Math Department. I thought I’d go ask him about college math programs. I went to his office in Pardee, knocked, and when greeted to come in, I found someone just as smart and fiercely unique as I’d expected, but in different ways. His wild hair and intensity caught me a bit off-guard—is this what mathematicians are like? What was I getting myself into? I learned right then and there that Art had a flair for the dramatic, and quickly our conversation moved to how I shouldn’t apply to a certain Ivy League school because of recent turmoil in the Math Department there. How did such exquisite Ivy League math gossip come through Easton, PA, and with my classmate’s dad as the conduit? Well, he saved me the drudgery of writing one more college essay! In later years, I confirmed all the facts he cited, by the way.
Some months later, I returned to his office in desperate need for candid advice: it was time to pick a college, and it came down to two schools. Everyone told me they were equally good choices–which was the case in fact–except for two people: my dad, and Art, who immediately and in no uncertain terms told me flat out why I had to attend which school, and that I should visit his friend who was on the faculty there. How did my classmate’s dad have such famous math friends? My dad wasn’t too happy, but he got over it—after a while.
I’ve been missing Art for years—it’s hard when you realize your heroes are human too. I am going to remember him as the person who helped others to a fault, the demanding and caring professor who went the extra mile for his students, and the proud dad who regaled me with stories about my former classmate.
From Evan Fisher:
I want to share some brief comments and reminiscences of Art Gorman. From the time he joined the mathematics department, Art and I were next door office neighbors. As a result, we had many long conversations over the years, often on Sunday mornings or evenings when we both happened to be in the department. Art was very solicitous of my family as I know he was with others’ families, and as I was of his family. He would keep me up-to-date on his daughters Ann’s and Mary’s activities and his brother Mark’s work. He would share colorful stories of growing up in Chicago and about the school he attended. We both attended the University of Illinois–he as an undergraduate and I as a graduate student so we often compared our experiences there. Many of our conversations concerned teaching, our students, and the sheep-herding skills of Maggie.
As Randy noted in the memorial resolution, Art was devoted to his students, both inside and outside the classroom. He advised them on graduate programs, gave unstintingly of his time to help them in their coursework, and as just one example, used his connections with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to help students obtain internships there. During the period in which there was an evening program at the college, Art was heavily involved in advising and guiding adult students through that program, a responsibility he took very seriously. He went out of his way to help students and faculty in the most thoughtful and selfless manner.
Art was a warm-hearted and kind person. Some of my special memories of Art were his interactions with our daughter when she was very young and was with me in my office. He knew she loved cats, and when he’d see her in my office, he would come in and teach her how to draw pictures of cats on the blackboard or demonstrate how a cat of his clicked instead of meowed.
One of the things that struck me in hearing the memorial resolution is the fact that I had forgotten about the many teaching awards Art had received and was reminded of the breadth and depth of his applied mathematical research. What strikes me is that Art did all this in the most modest and un-self congratulatory or promoting manner.
My lasting memory of Art will be of a kind and warm-hearted colleague who went out of his way to help faculty and students. I miss my “next-door” neighbor.
From Rob Root:
I first met Art when I arrived here at Lafayette as a rookie faculty member in 1991. In a famously supportive department, no one offered me more support than Art Gorman. As I struggled to accommodate my teaching style to Lafayette students, he offered sage advice. More importantly, he offered a shining example: stinting generosity with his students combined with unwavering standards. As I sought an interested audience for my scholarly accomplishments, Art arranged for me to give a talk at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He came to Newark with me and introduced me around the department there. As a direct result of that visit, my first honors student, Steve Kunec, went on to graduate school at NJIT, and got his PhD in applied math there. When I needed to find a suitable venue for my first interdisciplinary work, a joint article with a biologist and an undergraduate in engineering, Art knew just the journal to get the manuscript. Along the way, he was a friendly supportive colleague, always interested in my career, my classes, and my happiness at Lafayette and in Easton. When I realized that I really needed to get to the gym regularly if I was to stay in shape, Art was there even more regularly, setting a standard for discipline and commitment, just as he did in the instructional and scholarly aspects of my life. I consider myself fortunate to have had such a colleague. The last years of his life Art seemed to stray, and his health faltered and hampered him. My efforts to draw him back to the path he laid out so clearly for me didn’t work out. But his generosity and thoughtfulness over many years inspired me, like many of more of you here. That is the Art I choose to remember and share going forward.
From Chester Salwach:
Art Gorman grew up in a not-so-great, gang-infested neighborhood in the south side of Chicago. Early on he needed to learn how to defend himself. During his high school years he experienced both the joys of academic success and of becoming a regional basketball star, and the anguish of being hit in the leg by a stray bullet as he was preparing to leave his home for his prom, along with being stabbed on at least one other occasion—not common occurrences for most of us. But these experiences instilled in him not just a toughness to pull himself up by his bootstraps, but also a compassion for others that would remain with him for his entire life.
Because of this bullet, he was unable to run fast enough to become a Navy Seal, but his agile mind lead to his becoming a professor, here, at Lafayette College, where he was highly valued for his many contributions both as a teacher and a scholar, first in Engineering and, later, of course, in the Mathematics Department. The adventurous Art’s interests in Meteorology also lead him to teach a course in the Geology Department and one of his favorite TV shows was “Ice Road Truckers”—watching the drivers steer their big rigs over the frozen lakes in the Northwest Territory of Canada. Over the years, he advised many part-time students, helping them to find their way to a degree while holding down full-time jobs. Building and operating ham radios was another great interest of his, and he once even gave a troubled young man a set-up who couldn’t afford to get one for himself.
Art was always ready to go really out of his way, expending both emotional energy and financial resources to help others—family, friends, students, and canines in any way he could. I am very proud to have had Art Gorman for a friend.
From Randy Stonesifer:
In addition to reading the Faculty Memorial Resolution, Randy offered this personal anecdote:
One of my sons finished his first year of college and found that he needed to take Calculus III to get back on track. Art was scheduled to teach Calc III that summer and Drew signed up for it. Due to the enrollment and other factors, Art essentially ended up giving Drew a one-on-one personal tutorial in Calculus III. What an amazing gift, from an amazing teacher and an amazing man: a gift that encouraged Drew to continue and complete a mathematics major – with a strong desire to teach.
From C. Jayne Trent:
I saw a collie chasing a ball eight years ago. She was just amazing to watch as she spun and jumped high off the ground, a whirling blur of black and white. She was so beautiful, so perfectly trained and focused, that I was in awe of the bond between her and the man throwing the ball. I asked if I could pet her, and that’s how I met Maggie and Art.
I kept running into them and Art and I began to chat, mostly about our dogs. We were both absolutely besotted with our animals and enthusiastically discussed food and walks and treats and grooming and training and fleas and ticks and all of the things crazy dog people talk about. And that’s how we became friends.
Art was an invaluable friend, helping me navigate the unfamiliar academic world. He steered me to the right people to answer my many questions, he explained why certain textbooks were used for more than one semester and he was always patient. He listened to my frequent lamentations and shared my joy when I finally mastered the arcane book software I had to use every day. He did his best to explain to this old literature major what calculus was and why it was so important, using imagery like ocean waves, imagery that made sense to me. We had more success as pupil and professor when he taught his meteorology class, and spent an enjoyable summer identifying clouds and weather patterns.
Along the way our dogs met each other, and to our delight they not only got along, they became good friends. The same thing happened with Art and my husband Rob, who discovered a shared interest in history and politics which they pursued while Maggie, Keegan and I chased tennis balls, played tug, and rolled around on the grass. We had a lot of fun together.
I could continue to speak of what a good friend Art was to me and the many ways he helped me to feel comfortable at Lafayette. His friendship led me to other friends and ultimately to my working for the best department on campus. He did so much for me that I sometimes felt I came up short in the friendship equation, as he rarely accepted any help from me, except for the hunt for old differential equations editions and ways to contact Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel. But when he became so ill in December he asked me to care for Maggie, and I’ve continued to do so ever since. She’s now living with Rob and me and Keegan, adjusting to her new reality and being the very good good girl she’s always been. Taking care of her comforts me – it’s the one thing I can do for a friend who meant so much to me.
Contributions from Others
From Gary Gordon:
From Chin-One Chan
She was just a puppy!!!
I wouldn’t have been able to complete my studies at Lafayette if it wasn’t for Professor Gorman. I did poorly in my first two years, Lafayette was ready to abandon me. I took Calc II and III with Professor Gorman, he probably observed that I wasn’t half bad in math, and gave me 1:1 PDE in the summer that I was to be kicked out. I think it was on the last 1:1 session, after he announced my exam score that he said to me, “See? You aren’t as bad a student as you think.” He might have spoken to some people, in any event I was allowed to stay at school.
Professor Gorman learnt that I was dating this other student, whom he knew. For the next two years until years after I left Lafayette, he would tell me to dump the guy, because the guy wasn’t good to me. Professor Gorman was right, and I did leave the guy after nearly 9 years.
Professor Gorman came to Farber to meet my parents and me on commencement day. My mom was helping me get ready in my room when he and my father talked in the lounge. My father said to him, something like, “My daughter has never been uglier. All that make-up is of no help.” Professor Gorman told me that later, then said “We all wonder what you’re doing in Easton, you should be in Hollywood. You’re very graceful.” He was joking, of course. Since then, though, he called me “Little Swan”.
I left home at 13, my parents were far away. Professor Gorman was the fatherly figure I much needed. If I had had a wedding, Professor Gorman would have been invited to be one of the three men to walk me down the aisle (or whatever else a bride’s father does at the wedding). Teachers probably don’t know how important they can be to some of their students, as they see hundreds and thousands of us coming and going every year. To us, however, they’re the only one.