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October 29, 2014

In Memoriam

J. Daniel Subtelny

J. Daniel SubtelnyJ. Daniel Subtelny, a pioneer in the field of craniofacial orthodontics and longtime chair and faculty member at the Medical Center’s Eastman Institute for Oral Health, died Sept. 17 at the age of 92.

His 60-year career and dedication to orthodontics, Eastman Dental, and his students are remarkable. Widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost educators in orthodontics, he founded the Cleft Palate Team at the Eastman Dental Dispensary and incorporated the diagnosis and treatment of patients with craniofacial anomalies into his orthodontic curriculum. Many other orthodontic programs around the world followed suit.

“Dr. Subtelny’s influence and impact on the profession and his students are immeasurable,” says Eli Eliav, director of the Eastman Institute for Oral Health. “His passing leaves a permanent void, but his legacy will live indefinitely.”

Subtelny was known for his “hot seat” series of classes, each requiring a resident to take direct questions from him for hours about every aspect of orthodontics. Many of his former students now credit their hot-seat experiences for building their confidence, knowledge, and leadership skills.

“’Hot seat’ makes you aware that you don’t know it all and that there is more than one way to approach a problem,” says Michael Spoon ’91D. “What Dr. Subtelny uniquely contributed is an historical perspective and knowledge base that is shared by almost no one else. You won’t find what he knows on the Internet or in Pub Med (a search engine accessing a database of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics).”

Richard Satran

Richard SatranRichard Satran, professor emeritus at the School of Medicine and Dentistry and founding member of the Medical Center’s Department of Neurology, died Sept. 20 at the age of 85.

“Richard was a neurologist’s neurologist and his passion, integrity, and approach to neurology lives on in all of us,” said Robert Holloway, chair of the Department of Neurology. “He was from the biopyschosocial era of the School of Medicine and Dentistry and was always a fierce advocate for patients and their quality of life. He taught many to always think about the broader context within which a patient’s disease occurs, lessons that are more relevant today than ever.”

In addition to his many teaching, research, and clinical roles, Satran also saw patients with multiple sclerosis at Monroe Community Hospital, an interest maintained throughout his career. He served until his death as a member of the advisory board of the local Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Appointed a professor of neurology in 1976, Satran twice served as acting chair of the department during the 1980s. He also served as associate dean for Admissions for the School of Medicine and Dentistry for four years. He was appointed professor emeritus in 1997.

Satran coedited the section on the history of neurology for Archives of Neurology and was a member of the editorial board of the Journal of the History of the Neurosciences. He also served as chair of the American Academy of Neurology’s section on the history of neurology.

David Knill

David KnillDavid Knill, professor of brain and cognitive sciences and associate director of the Center for Visual Science, died Oct. 6 at the age of 53.

“Dave was enormously important to our students in BCS, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels,” says Richard Aslin, the William R. Kenan Professor Jr. Professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. “No words can express how much he will be missed as a colleague and a friend.”

Greg DeAngelis, George Eastman Professor and chair of the department adds, “He was a big part of the heart and soul of this department.”

Knill, who came to the University as an associate professor in 1999, was a leading scientist in the study of human perception. He also served as the associate director of the Center for Visual Science since 2001. Most of his work, which included over 60 research and review articles, focused on visual perception and how humans use vision to guide physical actions.

“Dave was really brilliant,” says DeAngelis, adding that Knill often came up with theories that could make cohesive sense of puzzling observations that had lingered in the literature for years, and had before seemed only loosely connected.

“There are very few people in this business who have Dave’s powerful understanding of math, computer science, and statistics, and then can bring all that together with the empirical work,” DeAngelis said of his late colleague. “That’s what really what set him apart.”

But perhaps foremost, he was a teacher and advisor—to students at every level, says DeAngelis. “He was a fabulous mentor to students and postdocs, because he really wanted them to learn the right way to approach science. He really was a pure educator and scientist.”

Robert Sproull

Robert Lamb Sproull, internationally known physicist, professor, and the seventh president of the University, died Oct. 9 at the age of 96.

Sproull joined the University as provost in 1968 and was president from 1970 to 1984, during which he is now credited with maintaining major advancements in University programs and facilities, including providing critical fundraising leadership. He also led the creation of the University’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics.

“The University of Rochester has lost a giant, one of its treasures. Bob Sproull was president of the University when the nation suffered through double-digit inflation and recession,” said President Joel Seligman. “Such obstacles might have diverted less committed leaders, but not Bob Sproull.”

Ed Hajim ‘58, chairman of the Board of Trustees, echoed Seligman’s sentiments.

“His leadership helped facilitate Rochester’s transition from a liberal arts institution to a research university. He gave thoughtful attention to the investments that would make Rochester a destination for talented faculty and students.”

Rita Shane

Rita ShaneDramatic coloratura soprano Rita Shane, who performed as Queen of the Night more than 250 times and originated the lead in Dominick Argento’s Miss Havisham’s Fire, died Oct. 9 at the age of 78. At the time, she was a professor of voice at the Eastman School.

When she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1973 in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, the New York Times noted her “powerful, precise, expressive, and intense” performance, saying it “left no doubt as to the Queen of the Night’s character.” A leading soprano at the Met for 10 seasons and 75 performances, Shane also sang at the Chicago Lyric, San Francisco, Santa Fe, New York City, and many other American opera companies. She made her European debut at Teatro Alla Scala in Milan in 1970 and sang at the Vienna State Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Opera du Rhin in Strasbourg, and a dozen other houses in Europe and South America.

“We have many faculty stars at Eastman,” says said Russell Miller, professor of vocal coaching and repertoire and chair of the Voice and Opera Department, “But for me, what made Rita Shane stand out among them as a teacher, in addition to her legendary warmth and elegance, was a quality of faithfulness to the vocal technique that she believed in so completely and conveyed so effectively; to her students whom she supported in so many ways, during and after their years in school; and to a professional standard of singing that she helped sustain in the world’s most important opera houses and concert halls.”

While at the Met, Ms. Shane stepped in for Beverly Sills in January 1976 as Pamira in Rossini’s The Siege of Corinth. Noting the technical difficulty of the role, the New York Times reported that “her virtuosity in scales, cadenzas and staccato leaps and her solid high notes were impressive.” The following month, Shane was again called to replace Sills, this time in Verdi’s La Traviata as Violetta, a part which, according to the New York Times, she sang expertly, “her voice free and easy at the top,” and with the “middle register to take care of all the singing beyond the brilliance of Act 1.”

“The world has lost a bright, shining star,” says Metropolitan Opera tenor John McVeigh, who has performed with the Chicago Lyric Opera, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and in opera and in concert with orchestras and festivals throughout the United States, Europe, and China. “She took me, and so many others like me, under her wings, nurtured us at Eastman and … helped us all to find our own voice in this world.”

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