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IU Northwest mourns the loss of associate professor Frank Caucci

From modern languages to social work, Caucci had served campus for 25 years

Photo provided
Associate Professor Frank Caucci, Ph.D.

Indiana University Northwest regretfully announced Friday the passing of Associate Professor of Social Work Frank Caucci, Ph.D., of Chicago. Caucci passed away early Friday morning, August 19, after a long illness.

Caucci joined IU Northwest in 1986 and taught French for many years before earning his master’s degree in Social Work and moving from the Modern Languages Department to the Division of Social Work.

Caucci played significant roles in faculty governance over the years, serving on the Executive Committee and Campus Promotion and Tenure Committee, in which he played a large role in revising the promotion and tenure guidelines.

Professor of Sociology Charles Gallmeier, Ph.D. who served as president of the committees while Caucci served, said Caucci was always someone he could count on – “one of those people that is essential to have in those kinds of roles.”

Revising the promotion and tenure guidelines, in particular, he said, was an arduous process that took two years to complete.

“That document, which everyone on the committee is very proud of -- and Frank especially because he was very active in the process -- has I believe, made our campus a better place and helped move us toward being a more comprehensive university.”

Gallmeier described Caucci as someone who was “committed to IU Northwest, committed to faculty governance, a humanist and someone very concerned about students especially in terms of fairness and justice.”

Gallmeier expressed a high level of respect for Caucci’s commitment to social change, equality and fairness.

“He liked to do what sociologists like to call ‘people work,’ ” he said.

One of those such projects, which took him on sabbatical to Argentina in 2008, was his research involving those who disappeared from Argentina during the country’s “Dirty War” from 1976 to 1983. Colleagues say he spent a couple of summers interviewing Argentinians who lost family members during that dark time and was in process of doing qualitative analysis of these interviews.

In the Division of Social Work, Caucci primarily taught courses in Human Behavior in the Social Environment. He also served as interim director of the division for the 2007-08 academic year.

Professor Darlene Lynch, Ph.D., Director of the Division of Social Work, called Caucci “brilliant” and a “gifted linguist” who loved words and languages. Lynch laughed that students often needed to consult a dictionary after a conversation with him to fully understand his meaning.

“Students always increased their vocabulary if they had him as an instructor,” Lynch said.

But his helpful mentoring wasn’t reserved just for students. Lynch recalls he was always very helpful with editing the work of colleagues, as well.

“He wrote so beautifully,” Lynch said. “You always wanted Frank to read your stuff.”

Colleagues say Caucci, an Italian-Canadian, was fluent in French, Spanish, Italian and “probably a few others.”

“I’m devastated,” Gallmeier said. “It’s another difficult loss for our campus to deal with. The Social Work department certainly is going to have a big hole to fill. I will miss him.”

IU Northwest extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Frank Caucci, Ph.D.

At 5 p.m., on Wednesday, Aug. 31, the Division of Social Work will host a memorial gathering for the campus community in the John W. Anderson Library Conference Center (Room 105).  The memorial ceremony will provide faculty, staff, students and alumni an opportunity to pay tribute to Dr. Caucci. There will be a guestbook to sign with remembrances, which will be shared with Dr. Caucci’s family.  We invite all to pay their respects and comfort each other in this time of grieving.

The family is in the process of establishing a social work scholarship in Dr. Caucci’s honor, and has asked that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Frank Caucci Scholarship Fund.  Please make checks payable to Indiana University Foundation with the notation, “Frank Caucci Scholarship Fund”.

Donations can be mailed to:

Timothy Weidmann

Office of External Relations

Sycamore Hall, Room 200

IU Northwest

3400 Broadway

Gary, IN 46408


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Emily Banas
Office of Marketing and Communications

Erika Rose
Office of Marketing and Communications