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Remembering Dr. Robin Hass Birky

On Friday, August 29, we lost a very special person from our IU Northwest family; a woman who was a friend, teacher, colleague and mentor to thousands.  Dr. Robin Hass Birky touched and shaped the lives of so many in one way or another. Whether through her 13 years of as a professor of English or recently promoted associate vice chancellor, to her community service with literacy and children, to the students she taught in and out of the classroom, and to her friends and colleagues, she will be greatly missed by all who benefited from her wisdom, experience, quick wit, good humour and overall personal character.

 

 

 

 

Tue 9/2/2008 3:37 PM
Ragina Dillon
Student

Dr. Robin Hass Birky was my ENG-G207 Professor for this semester. I knew her for two and a half hours and she inspired my soul! I thought that this class would be hard but she made it so simple. I was ready for a wonderful semester. Dr. Hass Birky was so passionate in teaching that she motivated me to work hard in class.
This class will not be the same, tough act to follow. Rest in peace Dr. Hass Birky.
Tue 9/2/2008 5:15 PM
Vernon G. Smith
vesmith@iun.edu
Gary, IN
Colleague
I have had the pleasure of working with Robin on a number of occasions. I have always been impressed with her genuineness, her expertise and her pleasant personality. The leadership she provided on this campus is second to none. I will miss her radiant smile and the exchange of salutations as we crossed each other's paths while on campus. My prayers are with her family.
Tue 9/2/2008 5:19 PM
"D" Estrada
doestrad@iun.edu
Gary, IN
Student
I was very fortunate to have Dr. Birky for a grammar class several years ago. I remember what a wonderful sense of humor she had. When it was time for our mid-terms and finals, she invited the entire class to her home to help us study. I will always remember this, she did everything she could to help all of her students succeed.
Tue 9/2/2008 5:33 PM
Peter Avis
pavis@iun.edu
Colleague
My deepest condolences and sympathies to those close to Robin. I knew Robin much less than most of you because of the short time I have been at IUN. However, perhaps the fact that I feel compelled to share is a testament to her. She left an incredible imprint even in the very short period I knew her.

I reflect on this tragedy and two things stand out: Robin was exemplary in making me very conscious of the need for continual improvement and accountability. To honor her, I would like to keep at least these two things at the center of my efforts I must continue to improve in all aspects. And, to do so, I must account for how I am doing today, what worked and what did not work in the past and where I am going tomorrow. Put another way, I ask, am I doing the best things that I can do to make IU Northwest a better school, to provide students an excellent education and to conduct research and scholarship in the best way possible? Robin asked us to take stock in this university and our contributions to it. For me, her legacy will be to ask this set of questions continually and to work tirelessly towards finding the right answers.

Tue 9/2/2008 7:56 PM
Sean King
Gary, IN
Student/Alumus
(former staff in IUN Writing Center)
I strongly recall three things about Dr. Hass-Birky: her professionalism, her sense of humor, and her dedication to her career (she seemed to truly enjoy her work).

Tue 9/2/2008 7:58 PM
Rochelle Brock
brock2@iun.edu
Gary, IN
Colleague
Robin, I will miss your smile, your positive attitude, your willingness to help, your laughter, your intelligence, your "hurried steps" across campus and your spirit. As my personal memorial to you I will honor your spirit by working every day to become the person and the IUN employee that you would be proud of!
Tue 9/2/2008 8:33 PM
SL
Gary, IN
Student
For the short amount of time that I knew Dr. Hass-Birky, she was a very friendly and approchable person. I was deeply looking forward to rest of my semeter in her course as she made the course fun and intellectually stimulating. My condolences goes out to her family in this sorrwoful time. She will be deeply missed.

Wed 9/3/2008 4:11 AM
Shannon Little
sslittle@iun.edu
Hobart, IN
Student

The first time I met DR. Hass-Birky was in womens studies. I received extra credit to attend a discussion of "Partly Cloudy Patriot". I was really nervous because I was the only student who showed up and I had these amazing minds in conference with me. What to say, what to say, I haven't finished the book. But, every comment I made she made me feel smart and good about myself. She engaged me to disuss the topic as a peer not a prof or an administrator. I registered for class for my scheduled time frame last week not wanting to take a class in grammer. Yet, after attending my first week my husband said, "How was your class? I know you aren't really that interested in this class." I honestly told him, I'm kinda excited to take this class, Dr. Hass-Birky is so helpful and excited about teaching this class, I'm excited it sounds stupid. But, Dr. Hass-Birky had me geeked about writing a paper on TBI. She had amazi ng talent and love for teaching. She is already missed.
Wed 9/3/2008 1:58 PM
Deanna McGuckin
Valparaiso, IN
Student
I first met Robin when I enrolled in one of her classes. I was taking over 20 credit hours that semester, so her class was one of many. I was going through a very stressful time in my life as I had two small children at home and was at the beginning of a divorce. Needless to say, I had a lot on my plate. During one extremely stressful week, I sat down in Robin's class to take an exam and for the first time in my life, I drew a total blank. The best I could manage was my name and a little bit of basic information. There was no way I could recall any of the sentence diagraming information I needed to complete the test. After staring at the paper and coming to the realization that my mind had simply shut down, I handed in the test and left the room. As I left, I was feeling so overwhelmed. Well, before I made it half way down the hallway, I heard footsteps behind me. I turned around and there was Robin. She had!
my test in one hand and a genuine look of compassion and concern on her face. She asked me, "What happened?" I basically told her I drew a blank and just couldn't remember the test material. Then, Robin told me to go home, get some rest, come see her in her office tomorrow and she would let me take another try at the test. I went to her office the following day and took the test, remembering all the material. Robin then told me if I needed and additional help or rescheduling to just let her know. Robin didn't have to do that, but she did. Although I didn't have to take her up on her offer, just the presence of her additional support if I needed it let a bit of pressure off me when I neeed it the most, allowing me to get through that tough semester. Whether Robin knew it or not, just seeing her show up at work, smiling and friendly sent a message, especially to women. Robin mentioned her son, Coel a few times in class and it was obvious she was a very devoted mom. Robin was a mom who was making it! She was thoroughly enjoying her work and being a devoted mom. Robin was a woman who was a inspirational example to other women. And it didn't stop there, because she constantly reached out to help other women. Upon returning to IUN for an English endorsement to my teaching certificate a few years after graduation, Robin again helped me. I needed a professor to commit to taking me as an independent study student in order to pick up a class I needed, but was not currently being offered. Although Robin herself couldn't fit my class into her schedule, she picked up the phone right away and personally vouching for me, found a professor to help me. I will never forget the kindness and support Robin showed me. IUN certainly lost one of their very best this week.
Wed 9/3/2008 4:15 PM
M. Thandabantu Iverson, Ph.D.
tiverson@iun.edu
Colleague
My way of dealing with our loss of Dr. Hass Birky was to write a poem, "A Poem for Robin and Us:"

you didn't stay long
had to run on to touch other minds
make other connections link other
hearts
we thank you for sharing all you had
now we see some things clearer
feel things we had not felt we wonder
at beating hearts and silences
revealed in your questions--always those questions yet now we have more questions of our own why this empty chair why this echo without your voice why this sudden ache in our spirits why this glimpse of your shadow as the sun has gone down in our skies?

we ache for answers and we are less
certain of time
we wipe unruly lava tears that will not stop flowing we thought you here forever like moon and stars and earth and fire and babies laughing and welcome breezes renewing us as we run this race

your work is here but
you are gone
now we must stand in your place
asking questions of others
encouraging others challenging and
touching hearts in others
showing others how to walk the talk we heard and witnessed when last we felt your smile...

Wed 9/3/2008 8:15 PM
Casondra
Student
Dr. Hass-Birky was by far the best teacher I have ever had. She was an amazing teacher who actually cared. She was brilliant but had no problem going out of her way to teach a subject even when it meant humorously dumbing down Chaucer. I had her for two semesters while I was pregnant and she helped me more than anyone. I will miss her so much!
Wed 9/3/2008 8:42 PM
Manoj Pardasani
mpardasani@fordham.edu
New York, NY
Colleague
Robin was a special human being - she had the biggest heart, warmest smile and the noblest. Her faith, passion and kindness shone through her eyes. Her love for her family and her work at IUN was inspiring and uplifting. She was there for me when I needed a shoulder for support or someone to talk to. She was an invaluable advisor, guide and mentor. She was the epitome of an educator - warm,supportive, inspirational and motivational. Her smile and warm spirit will always remain with me and I hope that I can live up to the high standards that she set for all of us. Her spirit will always live on!!!
Wed 9/3/2008 9:02 PM
Charlotte R. Emery
cremery@iun.edu
Merrillville, IN
Student
I remember Dr. Hass-Birky when she first arrived to IUN from Texas. She was very bubbly and happy all of the time. She always wanted to help her students succeed in the classroom. I have adopted many of Dr. Birkey's teaching strategies and techniques in my classroom. I will always remember her in my heart and most importantly, her proficient teaching style. Cole, Mr. Birky, and Dr. Birkey's parents were blessed to have her for 41-years.
  

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Remembering Robin

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Press Release

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