Students organized a “Celebration of Impact” for beloved professor of the Computer Science and Software Engineering (CSSE) Department, William Tepfenhart, Ph.D., who passed away March 25.
The commemoration occurred on April 17 in Howard Hall, the home of the CSSE Department, and was sponsored by the School of Science.
A “Celebration of Impact” is described by the event’s slideshow as “a gathering of people who revere the strong positive effect that another has caused on either themselves, his peers, and/or his environment.”
Tepfenhart was a professor at Monmouth University for 20 years and has had a seemingly lasting effect on each student and faculty member at the University.
The event featured a “Dr. Tepfenhart Memory Board,” which gave attendees a chance to post sticky notes with their fondest and most personal memories of Tepfenhart for all others to read.
Notes ranged from pieces of knowledge students learned in class such as this quote from Tepfenhart: “The more passionate you are about your design, the louder you are,” to some lighthearted memories such as, “I loved seeing him at the Evanescence and Lindsey Stirling concert this past summer at PNC.”
Tepfenhart wasn’t just a professor of computer science and software engineering, he also served on many different boards within the CSSE Department and was a pivotal voice in the Honors School. He was a permanent member of the Honors Council. Nancy Mezey, Ph.D., Dean of the Honors School, attended the event and boasted Tepfenhart’s continuous service for the Honors School and honor students.
The event was a way for all of Tepfenhart’s University affiliates, both students and colleagues, to pay respect to his lasting legacy at the University.
Daniela Rosca, Ph.D, Department Chair of CSSE, lamented that Tepfenhart was “a special colleague for his fellow faculty members, whether they were full-time or adjuncts.” She further added, “He would always volunteer his time to give an advice or help a colleague whenever they needed.”
Students were glad they got a chance to both grieve together and just to be together with familiar faces. “Walking into the room, you could feel the love and admiration the students have for Dr. Tepfenhart, which was mutual with him,” Hunter Dubel, a graduate software engineering student, explained.
The event was attended by approximately 50 people who were part of Tepfenhart’s University family. Included in that 50 were Tepfenhart’s wife, Mariana Tepfenhart, who is an adjunct professor of history at the University, and his sister, Laura.
Laura shared that she could have never seen her brother staying in a corporate world and that being at Monmouth University was the perfect fit for him. She added that he just absolutely adored each of his students.
His wife commented at the event on how he “gave a lot to his students and demanded a lot in return.” She stated that he truly believed in his students’ abilities and success.
Jan Rohn, a specialist professor of computer science and software engineering, said, “The celebration of Professor Tepfenhart’s life exemplified the lasting impact he has had in the personal and professional development of his students. Professor Tepfenhart was a respected colleague and friend.”
Rohn added, “I’d like to thank the students who organized the celebration which allowed us to share our memories of Professor Tepfenhart so that he can continue to inspire us in the future.”
Throughout the event, attendees were nodding in agreement and joining in laughter of bittersweet memories. Joshua Schlanger, a senior software engineering student, said, “If there was ever a face of the CSSE Department, Dr. Tepfenhart would have been it. This was never more evident at any other time, but today [the day of the event, April 17] with the amount of support and attendance from students in faculty.”
Joseph Monaco, a junior software engineering student, claimed “I am happy that we had the event to hear all the great stories and memories about Dr. Tepfenhart.” He continued, “I only have great memories of being in his class and even just talking to him about anything outside the classroom.”
Having been a part of the University for 20 years, Tepfenhart will not just disappear from the University. His lessons and encouragement will stay with all he has touched forever. Dubel stated, “Dr. Tepfenhart inspired me to be my best and more importantly, to be myself.”
PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University