Memorial for former education dean scheduled for Dec. 6

Courtesy of UCR Today
Courtesy of UCR Today

A memorial is scheduled for this Saturday to mourn Robert Calfee, former dean of UCR’s Graduate School of Education (GSOE), who passed away in his Stanford home on Oct. 24. The event will occur at 1 p.m. at the Valley Presbyterian Church, followed by a public reception from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Barchers-Calfee residence. Instead of bringing flowers, the family requests that donations be given to a previously formed UCR student fellowship fund under the name “Calfee” to provide financial support for graduate students enrolled in the GSOE’s doctorate program.

Serving on the faculty of Stanford’s Graduate School of Education for three decades, Calfee moved on to become the GSOE dean at UC Riverside from 1998 to 2003. Fellow colleagues such as UCR GSOE professor Melanie Sperling recalled fond experiences with Calfee. “I met Bob when we were both at Stanford. I almost dictated that my students take his classes. He was that good and more,” she expressed. “Not one student regretted experiencing ‘Calfee.’”

Sperling was also given the opportunity to work with Calfee at UC Riverside and published a book with him entitled, “On Mixed Methods: Approaches to Language and Literacy Research” in 2010. As “a tribute to his talents,” Sperling would often draw upon his expertise in various fields, such as quantitative design and critique, manuscript editing and peer review.

Described as one of the nation’s most eminent researchers in educational psychology, UCR GSOE Director Jan Blacher explained that his reading research helped launch LeapFrog Enterprises Inc., a leader in educational children’s products. While at Stanford in 1994, Calfee lent a guiding hand to the nascent prototype development of the LeapPad tablet, which is now used by millions of children today.

“It’s always difficult to lose a colleague. Bob’s illness was sudden and progressed swiftly; he passed with dignity and grace. Most of us will remember him as a scholarly dean who came to UCR at the right time,” furthered Blacher. “He was a lovely person — kind, generous and had a sense of humor.”

“The term ‘consummate professional’ was coined with him in mind (a bit of language history that I happily believe),” Sperling said. “He was a dear mentor and a loyal friend. I will miss him enormously.”

Calfee, 81, is survived by his wife, three sisters and three children.

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