As influential instructors go, they didn’t come any better than the late, great Joe Verdeyen, says one of his former students and biggest fans.
“I wanted to write a few words about the most gracious, wonderful and my favorite faculty member at UIUC,” says Selim Unlu, a dual-degree UI grad and now a professor himself, in the College of Engineering at Boston University.
“When I finished my Ph.D. and just before started my job as an assistant professor at BU in 1992, I went to visit him to tell him that I wanted to teach the course that I took from him — Lasers. I enjoyed the course he taught from the textbook he wrote. I asked him if it would be OK for me to teach a course based on his class.
“He told me that he would be very happy. Then he did something shockingly amazing.
“He called in his secretary and asked her to make copies of all his class notes, exams, homework, etcetera. I was stunned by the generosity as I walked out with a box of diskettes in my hand. It was the greatest gift for a new faculty member.
“I remember my first teaching evaluations about a year later. Students were praising how well prepared I was with excellent lecture notes.
“I have always been thankful to Professor Verdeyen. His picture is on my first slide every time I teach the Lasers course at BU. He has been a great role model for me. I remember that he has told the class that we could call him — except during the Illini games. I give the students in my class my cell phone number.
“Rest in peace, Professor Verdeyen.”