In wake of Professor Roger Browse’s death, Zac Baum, CompSci ’17, decided to set up a Tilt page to collect funds in his memory from students and alumni. The funds will be used to purchase a bench in Browse’s name.
The computing professor passed away in July 2015 after a long battle with ALS.
Browse joined the Queen’s School of Computing (QSC) not long after completing his PhD at the University of British Columbia in 1982.
In 1984, he founded the Cognitive Science program at Queen’s — believed to be the first program of its kind in the world. The program combined educational aspects of computing, psychology, philosophy, linguistics and neuroscience.
Baum told The Journal that while he had never had the opportunity of being taught by Browse, he did interact with him on a personal level.
“From the experiences I had with him, and what I had heard from other students, he was a professor who truly respected students and [was] incredibly passionate about what he did,” Baum said.
One such student was Max Garcia CompSci ’17, who took COGS 100 with Browse as a first-year student at Queen’s. However, Garcia said that Browse had already begun to influence his university career before ever becoming his professor.
“When I was in Grade 11, Dr. Browse took time out of his busy schedule to answer important questions that I had about the Cognitive Science program at Queen’s,” he said.
The following year, Garcia spoke with Browse again to learn about the program he intended to begin. He admired the time Browse took to answer the questions of a young student.
“Whether directly, or indirectly, Dr. Browse has shaped the learning that many students have had, and will continue to have, when they take any cognitive science course,” Garcia said.
“It’s gratifying to know who made all of this possible.”
According to both Garcia and Baum, discussion began this year at the QSC Council meetings regarding how to properly honour Browse after his passing.
Ultimately, it was decided that a bench would be erected in his honour.
Irene LaFleche, the School of Computing’s undergraduate program assistant, took charge of the campaign. LaFleche is retiring from the University next year and wants to see the bench come to fruition before her departure, Baum explained.
Baum became directly involved in the fundraising effort when he happened to be speaking to an alumnus from the class of ’08 one weekend.
The two discussed Browse’s passing and the plan to collect money from students and alumni. In an effort to make donating easy and accessible, Baum created the Tilt page soon after.
The School of Computing has also created its own page to raise funds.
Selim Akl, director of the School of Computing, says that proceeds from both pages will be combined in order to meet the fundraising goal of $7,500.
No specific location for the bench has been determined yet. According to Baum, it will likely take some collaboration with the staff and administration to choose the best spot.
However, he did suggest that an ideal spot would be outside of Goodwin Hall — home to most of the School of Computing where Dr. Browse’s legacy continues.
“I’ve never heard someone spoken more highly of by students,” Baum said. “His legacy remains with the QSC and with its students indefinitely.”
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