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Two faculty members who helped make NIU great

June 10, 2015

The NIU community is mourning the loss of two prominent retired faculty members, each of whom left an indelible mark on the university.

Rodney Angotti, former chair of computer science, died June 6, in DeKalb. Clyde Kimball, a distinguished research professor of physics, died June 3, in Corvallis, Ore.

“Rod and Clyde were powerful forces, both within NIU and in the communities that NIU is part of,” said Christopher McCord, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Both cared deeply for the institution, and both did much to advance it during their careers here. It was my privilege and pleasure to know them, and to recognize them during the college’s 50th anniversary, as two of the first 10 faculty and staff to receive the college’s Distinguished Faculty and Staff Award.”

Rodney Angotti

Rodney Angotti

Known for intellectual clarity, compassion, commitment to principle and a passion for excellence, Angotti’s impact on NIU can still be felt today.

Angotti joined the NIU faculty in 1967 as a member of the department of mathematics. He served as the department’s assistant chair from 1968 to 1971 and played a key role in establishing computer science as one of the emphases available to mathematics majors.

He later served as assistant dean in Liberal Arts and Sciences from 1971 to 1983, providing leadership during a turbulent time of student unrest and rapidly expanding curricular initiatives. Those initiatives included establishing a student advising office and development of the contract major and the Bachelor of General Studies degree.

Angotti was a tireless advocate for students selecting coursework outside of their primary degree program to enhance and enrich their degree. Nearly all of the interdisciplinary minors that exist in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences today bear the Angotti stamp.

In 1983, he became chair of NIU’s Department of Computer Science, where he reached out to the business world, bringing dollars to support faculty, students, the curriculum and laboratories. Over the course of nearly a quarter century, he guided computer science from a fledging department into one of the most dynamic and productive units in the college. He retired in 2006.

Services will be held today (June 10) at 10:30 a.m. at the Newman Center in DeKalb. In lieu of flowers, the family will establish a scholarship fund in the name of Rodney Angotti that will be used for an aspiring computer science student attending NIU.

Kimball, a distinguished research professor whose scholarship attracted tens of millions of dollars in external funding to NIU, co-founded the university’s Institute for Nano Science, Engineering, and Technology (InSET) and served as its first director.

Clyde Kimball

Clyde Kimball

Kimball joined the NIU Department of Physics in the fall of 1964 while continuing professional appointments at Argonne National Laboratory.

Over the years, he taught almost all departmental undergraduate and graduate courses, formally supervising more than 30 research students. He supported hundreds more from his research grants. His work also resulted in nearly 300 scholarly publications.

Despite retiring in 2000, Kimball remained active on campus, where he helped spearhead an NIU high-performance computing initiative and continued his research up until recent years.

Beyond his teaching and research, Kimball during his NIU career conceived numerous initiatives and partnerships with Argonne and developed inter- and intra-college collaborations. He also served as science adviser to the president of NIU and worked twice as a program director at the National Science Foundation, providing vital guidance at the national level while building important recognition for NIU.

Despite an extraordinarily busy schedule, Kimball was known for always making time for others—exhibiting collegiality, taking personal interest in the work of others, lending a helping hand to students and dedicating constructive attention to new faculty.

“Clyde was not only an exceptional scientist, he was an extraordinary person,” said friend and former colleague Cara Carlson, now a business administrative associate with Northern Illinois University Press. “His goal was to make NIU a leading scientific institution – he truly loved working at the university and cherished the friends he made while on his journey.”

Carlson said Kimball’s family is planning a service this fall in DeKalb to celebrate his life and accomplishments.