Education says farewell to distinguished dean
Patterson’s legacy is summed up best by the affectionate words pulled from the minutes of his final faculty council meeting as dean in May of 1991. In this document, Patterson is described as having a “paternalistic flair,” and as a leader who spent his professional life “instilling a breath of life” into education’s student association during a time of administrative challenges. He was also characterized as a “shirt-sleeve” dean who maintained a constancy of spirit during turbulent and economically challenging times within the faculty and university community.
Fern Snart, dean of the Faculty of Education, remembers Patterson as a kind and gentle leader who had an ability to identify the essence of an issue and offer sound judgment.
“During a time when deans served more traditional roles as academic leaders, Bob instituted many visionary coalitions and partnerships at the university,” said Snart. “In particular, he lived his vision of creating a more collaborative environment both within his faculty and between the faculty and the field.”
Born in Fort MacLeod on June 8, 1937, Patterson received both his bachelor and master of education degrees from the
U of A, and his doctorate in the history and philosophy of education at Michigan State University. In 1990, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Lethbridge.
Patterson taught at the U of A for more than 30 years, including his time as dean. In 1992, he moved to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where he spent the concluding years of his professional career as dean of the McKay College of Education.
“He is remembered by his students and colleagues for his sensitivity to the human element in any problem or proposal,” said Snart. “He exemplified the values of a scholar and an educator and did it with humility and a sense of humour.
“He was a real statesman.”