Remembering Dean Potter
RWU is mourning the Oct. 7 loss of SECCM Dean Robert Potter.
The entire community extends our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends, and colleagues and students, past and present. In his 21 years of service at the University, 20 as dean, he has helped make RWU what it is today.
We invite you to take a look through these photos, share your memories and condolences and read through remembrances here, as we salute Dean Pottter's leadership, service, and immeasurable contributions to RWU and his School of Engineering, Computing and Construction Management.
The Roger Williams community is devastated by the loss of our friend, teacher, colleague and mentor, Dean Potter. We appreciate the kind thoughts and condolences from around the world.
Share a story, a memory, or condolences
Many have asked how we might honor him. A gift to his two passions, assisting SECCM students and the hockey program, in honor of his legacy, may be made here:
Thank you, alumni, families, and friends for this outpouring of support.
Still missing his presence on campus everyday. Wherever I would find him on campus, and he was truly all over campus, immersed in everything going on, he would brighten my day with a smile, and some good news about the hockey team or whatever was happening. I'd always walk away from an encounter with Dean Potter with better energy and outlook.
On top of being a great colleague and citizen of the university, his care of students and prospective students was palpable, and so far above and beyond. He knew exactly which senior design projects all of my sailors were engaged in at any time. He knew if one of my kids was struggling. He could seemingly know the status of every student in the school of engineering. He could tell you where ALL of his last year's seniors were employed. He was so hands on. And I can't tell you how many times, I called to set up a meeting (sometimes last minute) with a prospective student. He would fit the meeting into his schedule and wow the socks off so many prospects. It's no surprise that +1/4 of my team are engineers.
One of my favorite memories of him is on the day they opened the SECCM building. In one of the write ups, someone alluded to him beaming with pride, and I loved to see it!!! As he showed me his new office space, we argued in jest over who had a better view.
He was just an amazing person and I miss seeing him on campus very much.
– Amanda Callahan, sailing coach
It has taken me a little while to process the enormity of the loss to us all from Bob Potter’s untimely passing. It is reflected in the comments from students, families, faculty, and staff across the University on this page describing the myriad ways in which he touched people lives. Bob was not a faceless, distant administrator, but someone who gave every part of himself to the role of Dean. Always at the heart of his work was providing the best possible education for students. For Bob this went beyond checking the boxes of an accredited curriculum to a deep concern about the quality of teaching. He built a culture of excellence among the faculty through leading by example in the classroom and by offering supported laced with frank but kind critique. He also cared very much about individual students helping them to navigate the shoals of difficult courses of study, personal challenges, and the shift to productive and fulfilling careers. Bob had a profound impact on the lives of many hundreds of students that will redound through their lives for many years to come. He also wanted to make sure that students and their faculty had a building that facilitated their learning and matched the quality and teaching philosophy of his school. He was a passionate and ultimately successful advocate of the new building which is designed around the intensive experiential learning that lay at the center of his School’s approach to education.
On a personal note I have many great memories of working with Bob, but two stand out. The first is the warm welcome he and Patti gave to Mary Beth and myself when we arrived in Bristol and in my first months at the University. It is always difficult to make a move of this kind but this welcome, and Bob’s generous help in my first months helped me to navigate my way through some sticky situations early on. Second, my respect for Bob’s expertise and vision grew as we worked together to plan and raise funds for the new engineering building. Despite many twists and turns and some disappointments, his energy and optimism persisted and ultimately carried the day. He did not intend to build a monument for himself, but in the end, every part of the building bears his imprint, and it is a fitting home for his vision and his memory.
– Andy Workman
A leaders' leader. My mentor and my friend. "I could not stay another day, To love, to laugh, to work or play; Tasks left undone must stay that way. And if my parting has left a void, Then fill it with remembered joy. God's speed Bob.
– Michael Emmer, CM Program Coordinator
Someone once told me "God only takes the best"! Dean Potter was the best!
– Heidi Dagwan, Director of Special Events
Dean Potter was one of the best professors and dean I could have asked for. He really cared about his students and would go out of his way to talk to them in the building. I am grateful for the time I was able to get to know him and the impact he made on my academic life.
– Maeve Drogalis, Class of 2020
How rare it is to find such a passionate leader, yet one who is so humble and down to earth. Dean Potter was such a positive influence on me during my time at RWU. He was not only a wonderful educator, but he was his students' biggest fan. Whether he was personally congratulating us on our milestones in life or careers, or he was out there cheering on the hockey team. He was, and will continue to be, an amazing role model to students and faculty alike. I only wish I had the chance to visit campus once more to thank him for his supportive and encouraging words, his humor and infectious smile, and being everything you could hope for in an educator, a leader, and a friend. I want to extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends, and the RWU community.
– Sam Gildersleeve, Engineering Class of 2014
As a former member of the RWC Hockey Team, I send my condolences !!! May he RIP !!!
– Anthony Lato, Jr., 1973
You and I joined RWU within a year of each other and thanks to your guidance and leadership we were together able to build a nationally recognized CM program. Remember the time we were standing together in the back of the convention hall in Orlando watching the national Design Build student award competition? This was around 2003 and was the first time any of our competition teams had made it to nationals. The 3rd place winner was announced and you turned to me and said “you know 2nd place wouldn’t be so bad!” As you know we won, and when the competition director announced the winner just about every student in the room asked where is Roger Williams University? That was when we knew our program had landed on the map.
You were dedicated, focused on the student, supportive of the faculty and staff, steady under pressure and honest. You were the best person I ever worked for. We all miss you.
– Fred Gould, Professor Construction Management
I'm truly blessed and happy that in the short time that I have worked at RWU that I had the opportunity to meet and interact with Dean Potter. Every time that he walked by or stopped by the Bursar's office he always had a smile and always managed to make us smile or laugh. I could tell from the first time I met him that he was a special person and that he was passionate and loved working for RWU. I still can't believe that we won't see him or laugh with him anymore. One thing for sure he will be tremendously missed not just by me but by the whole RWU community. In reading his obituary and learning of how much he did through life made me realize that life is short no matter how old you are and we definitely have to live every day to the fullest, but most of all be happy and enjoy what you do every day. My deepest sympathy to the Potter family. May God give you the strength and peace to get through this most difficult time in your lives. Heaven has definitely gained a great person. Rest in peace Dean Potter.
– Teresa Braga - Assistant Bursar
Dean Potter helped me transfer from an architect major to an engineering major back in 2003. The first engineering class he put me in was his, Thermodynamics. I was lost, but quickly found my way as he made sure to take the extra time to help me understand. We worked on concrete canoe together in 2005, where he was our advisor and cheerleader. He became a mentor to me. A few years after graduation, he invited me to be on the Engineering Professional Advisory Board. I am lucky to have had him in my life for over 15 years. I am going to miss him, his selflessness, his drive to make the school better and his eagerness to help each student thrive. He is, and always will be, a friend. Sending love, prayers and hope for his family and friends!
– Jennifer Boyle, Class of 2005, Engineering Professional Advisory Board member
Nobody held me to higher standards than this man. It is true when I say I wouldn't be the person I am today without his guidance, support, and kick in the right direction when I needed it most. Thank you Dean Potter. You are so very missed.
– Madison Guitard, Engineering Student Class of 2020
Dear Dr. Potter family and friends,
Please accept my deepest condolences.
Dr. Potter was my professor many years back as I graduated in 2011 with an engineering degree. My friends and I always got a kick out of his chalk holders with color coordinated notes and subtle jokes in class. He always had a smile on his face and if he was stressed or upset, he never showed it. He was welcoming and inviting if I needed help with homework.
Dr. Potter will be truly missed in the engineering community.
– Gwendolyn Luke, 2011, Engineering School (Mech)
I joined the RWU community in 2019 and Bob was one of the first faculty members that I had the pleasure of meeting. He immediately made me feel welcome and shared stories that revealed the passion and care that he placed on the students and everyone that crossed his path. I enjoyed representing RWU with him in virtual sessions and through SECCM presentations in New Jersey. He truly was a shining light on this campus and we will forever be thankful for the impact he has made. Wishing all of his loved ones and those close to him peace and prayers during this difficult time.
– Colton Bright - Associate Director of Admission
Over my past 14 years at RWU I came to know Dean Potter as a kind, funny, honorable and compassionate educator. I recall a time when we met with a student who had performed poorly during their time at RWU and was facing suspension or worse for grades. The student chose to speak to a group of us to explain what happened. While I don't recall what the student said, I will also recall how Bob responded. He was incredibly kind, compassionate and honest with the student who was visibly hurting. I was struck by his ability to connect with the student in a way that recognized him and his struggle and to discuss very personal issues in a way that let the student know he was not alone. When the student was finished, and the committee had to move on, he asked a member of the committee to go out and make sure the student was ok. He cared about people and was strong enough to be vulnerable with them. He was always teaching us, in everything he did, both to students and to people like myself. It was an honor to know him and to call him a friend. He will be missed. May his legacy and kindness live on in all who knew him.
– Tricia Martland, RWU faculty
It is difficult to overestimate Bob Potter’s contributions to RWU over 20 years. There are so many things about him-- heart, expectation of and achievement of quality, steadfastness, commitment, optimism, greater goals and aspirations, leadership, playfulness, respect for institutions and endeavors, for young people and promise--that make a difference here, and will endure. He so admired and appreciated everyone in the School of Engineering, Computing and Construction Management, for all of the achievements that advanced the people and the school so clearly over the past 20 years,
I would like to share two things about Bob, out of very many that should be shared. Both are about teaching, and Bob Potter's enduring respect for teaching and for those who teach and learn, across time.
When I met Bob when he was interviewing to come to Roger Williams in the early 2000's, he saw a framed document, "Maxims on Teaching" by noted 19th century American educator Bronson Alcott hanging on the wall in my office. It was a gift from a friend, that I have always had here, that means a lot to me. It is an inspiring outline by Alcott of 58 of the most important things to keep in mind when teaching. Bob asked me if he could have it! I was surprised particularly when he had just arrived for an interview...but that was Bob's directness. I said I would give him a copy, which I did soon after he came to RWU. Bob was a great teacher, who thought about teaching, and who always taught while he was at Roger Williams. Bob Potter was a leader in a national organization dedicated to teaching in engineering over many years.
Another related story has to do with Bob's respect for books, and for West Point, his alma mater. During the summer on several occasions, I went with Bob to a local bookbinder's shop here in Rhode Island. Here Bob was having books more than 150 years old re-bound in leather, that had been written by Dennis Hart Mahan, renowned professor at the US Military Academic at West Point before and during the Civil War. Bob collected books by Mahan and other leaders he admired, and these occupied several shelves in his office at school. He took great pride in having taught at West Point following Mahan, and in teaching at Roger Williams.
I have given Bronson Alcott's "Maxims on Teaching" to SECCM Faculty, and trust that they will find an appropriate place in the new SECCM building. I will always appreciate Bob's friendship and example--his caring for the quality and qualities that we can attain, and for people. He would want us to continue to strive for excellence, and for all of us to help each other achieve it, as he did with so many.
– Stephen White, Dean, School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation
I never had the chance to personally meet Dean Potter with being new to my role and with the limited interactions on campus during this time, but in both the short time I have been here, and having an alumna in my family, it is so clear that Dean Potter was cherished by so many across campus. He seemed like an amazing person, instructor, and community member. Sending my deepest condolences to all of his loved ones.
– Courtney, Graduate Admission
Once when discussing an issue with Dean Potter, I told him that he was a straight shooter. He said, yes, I served in the army. Bob was a true officer and a gentleman.
– Minoo Tehrani
Dean Potter was an integral part of the CM program and someone who made my experience at RWU so meaningful. He took the time to know each of the students in the SECCM school. He was kind and helpful, genuinely caring for each of the students. There were many occasions where Dean Potter helped me during my time at RWU and for that I will be forever grateful. He was approachable and always reminded students that he was accessible should they need anything. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of Dean Potter and send my condolences to his family. I hope they are comforted knowing that he made a difference in so many students' lives.
– Angela Tafone, CM Graduate Class of 2012
A man who played such a pivotal role in so many of our lives. The impact you made knew no bounds as so many of us would not be where we are today if it weren’t for you. Thank you for your kindness, patience, and guidance; that combination bundled with a passion for teaching made for an amazing role model and mentor. My heart goes out to all that knew Dean Potter, but more so to those that never got the opportunity to build a relationship with him. He will truly be missed.
– Mac Everding, RWU Engineering 2017
This is all still unreal to me and so hard for me to fathom this week. Dean Potter was not only my dean but he was ‘my dad’ on campus. He pushed me, gave me the honest truth I didn’t want to always hear, and without a doubt was always there. He called me into his office a week and half ago to inform me of his retirement, he knew I would be upset if I found out through email. We talked about life, school, covid, and mainly how we were going to stay in touch and be in each others life after this year. I intended for dean potter to be in my life forever, I couldn’t wait to get my first job offer so I could call him immediately and let him know, I knew he would be so proud. He believed in me and all of his students when we didn’t even believe in ourselves yet.
A quote I have lived by for a while now is “this too shall pass”. I know the pain and sadness will pass but the memories I had with him will last forever. Knowing I got to meet a man like Dean Potter makes me unconditionally grateful. I’m happy to have known him for the time that I did than to have never known him at all. He was one in a million for sure and I will continue to make him proud and share his love for the engineering school with many others.
“For each thorn, there’s a rosebud...
For each twilight - a dawn...
For each trial - the strength to carry on...
For each storm cloud - a rainbow...
For each shadow - the sun...
For each parting - sweet memories when sorrow is done”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
– Raquel Santos, Engineering Class of 2021
What an honor to work under Bob's leadership the past several years as a faculty member in SECCM. He worked tirelessly to make things happen and always with a sense of humor. As a new faculty member, I felt valued and supported by Bob right from the start. I'll always remember his passion for teaching and will carry his advice forward into my career.
– Lily Jeznach, Engineering Faculty Member
To say I am heartbroken would be an understatement. I will miss my friend more than I can put to words. He was a man of honor with a deep passion for his family, his students, and his hockey players. I will miss our chats, our laughs and the swiffer which magically appeared when i mentioned a dust particle had landed on his shelf. No one can ever fill those shinny shoes. Until we meet again...
– Lori Barry
I had the pleasure of working with Dean Potter during the planning and design stages of the new SECCM Labs facility. Dean Potter was always a leader and respected the design process and appreciated the thorough dialog with all involved. I will always remember the times he would take out his engineering scale to confirm dimensions! The opening and use of the new Facility will continue to outline his legacy and commitment to the RWU community. He will be missed. My condolences to his family and peers.
– Sean Schmigle, AIA - Class of 2005, Architect
I had the pleasure of traveling, and presenting and hosting events with Bob. Seeing him speak and interact with prospective students, families, and college counselors was thing of beauty. His passion for engineering, for the SECCM community, and for RWU was palpable. He made everyone with whom he interacted feel special. At events, he took the time to not only greet, but have a genuine conversation with each student and their family. So many told me that one of the main reasons they chose to study at RWU because of Bob. It's rare to meet someone with as much genuine passion and conviction. I am grateful to have known him. His absence will be felt very deeply by the RWU community.
– Amy Tiberio, VP for Enrollment Management
The world has lost a truly wonderful man. I enjoyed working with him launching the Engineering Professional Advisory Board and developing it as a solid resource for both the school and its student. Bob was truly an engineer’s engineer as well as outstanding mentor and friend.
– George Hemond, RWU 1972, Engineering Professional Advisory Board
Sometimes I used to trail him through the parking lot to smell that pipe smoke---just like my dad's.
– Jennifer Campbell, professor
I still am in shock that this has even happened, it will be one week and this is still so painful for all of us on the RWU campus. Dean Potter was one of the most down to earth people across campus. Over the 20 years I have known him, he always stopped in his tracks while walking across campus, or getting food, or at a campus event, to stop and say, "hello, how are you doing?" He always just took that one more second to acknowledge you. I will miss seeing him and his smile, as all of us will across campus. My thoughts are with his wife, children, and family for the road ahead, with special prayers for them today!
– Lori Medeiros, Class 2009, Administrative Assistant- Performing Arts & Education Depts.
The hearts of so many of the RWU Hockey alumni, parents, and players are aching with the loss of Dean Potter. We are all better people because of him. We shall never forget his passion and perseverance that strengthened the RWU Hockey program to the stature that it is today. Bob was responsible for so many elements behind the scenes, from building the hockey schedule, to uniforms, to ice time, to fundraising, to player introductions on the ice.... He led and pushed many of us on and off the ice to be the best that we could be. He will be forever remembered as the "Father of RWU Hockey." Let his character and spirit carry us forward and inspire us to make a difference as he did in so many of our lives. Forever in our hearts and never forgotten. We love you, Dean Potter. RIP.
– Doug and Beth Murphy, RWU Hockey Parents
Bob Potter was a special kind of person. He was honest and true to his word. Whether we agreed or disagreed I always enjoyed our talks enormously. It was an honor and a privilege to work with him. My heartfelt condolences to the Potter family.
– Bonnie Hockhousen
Beyond sad and devastated by this unfortunate tragedy. Words cannot begin to describe the pain that my family and I are feeling for the loss of such a brilliant man. We are praying for Patti, Lindsey, Kendall & Chet as well as their significant others and their children for the loss of their Patriarch. My wife and I met the Potters 20 years ago and welcomed them into our lives, our home and our hearts. During that time to have the opportunity to share so many memories through the game of hockey coaching Chet through youth hockey and then in college at RWU. The way you fought for me to have that opportunity to coach, teach, guide and mentor 30 young men for 7 years as the coach of what we always referred to as our hockey family. The 100’s of phone calls, 1,000’s of emails and countless rides to meetings, practices, games and recruiting trips will never be forgotten. Kim and I want express our most sincere condolences. RWU did not just lose a Dean, a Professor or an Administrator they lost an Ambassador of Life to all of your students and all of the players from the hockey program. May God Bless Dr.P and the entire Potter Family! Go Hawks!!!
– Ed Silva RWU Hockey Coach 2010-2017
A great man, mentor and leader. You will be missed Dean Potter.
– Ian Mitchell, 2017. Engineering Student, Club Hockey Member, Solar Splash 2017
This news is a hurt. The few interactions I had with Dean Potter were memorable and left a positive feeling in it’s wake. Our daughter-alumna took every class of his she could and held him in high esteem, looking up to him as a role model. My thanks to him for leading a great department. He was such a cheerleader for the school. Our condolences to the Potter family and the RWU community.
– Matthew T. Caffrey & family Class 2020, Parent
I am very sorry to hear of this loss. Dean Potter was the first faculty member I met at RWU, as a parent, during the CM Open House Orientation for new Freshmen accepted students weekend. He was overly kind and welcoming to my son who graduated in 2019 successfully within the Construction Management Program. Dean Potter was a wonderful mentor for my son.His professional experience was invaluable and his genuine character and passion for wanting his students to succeed, was evident among students and parents.
– Liz and Bob Santoro- son Brian Santoro Class of 2019 Construction Management/Engineering Department
When somebody dies, a cloud turns into an angel,
and flies up to tell God to put another flower on a pillow.
A bird gives the message back to the world,
and sings a silent prayer that makes the rain cry.
People disappear, but they never really go away.
The spirits up there put the sun to bed,
wake up grass, and spin the earth in dizzy circles.
Sometimes you can see them dancing in a cloud during the day-time,
when they're supposed to be sleeping.
They paint the rainbows and also the sunsets
and make waves splash and tug at the tide.
They toss shooting stars and listen to wishes.
And when they sing wind- songs, they whisper to us,
don't miss me too much.
The view is nice and I'm doing just fine
Enjoy the view as we continue your legacy!
– Chris Brindamour, Class of 1998 & Construction Management Professional Advisory Board
Bob was always good for a smile and an interesting story or two. He was forever the optimist and I admired him for that. He will be missed.
– Kevin McNair
At RWU Bob Potter was someone who was larger than life. In all my 20 years on this campus, whether we were on the same side or opposite side of an issue, he was always a straight shooter and a gentleman. He worked tirelessly, will email you at 7 AM or 11 PM at night, he was a passionate advocate for SECCEM faculty and students. He had an uncanny way of seeing the good in anyone. When I was a junior faculty member in a difficult spot he came to my aid, for that moment I am eternally grateful! If I disagreed with him and sent him an email saying so, nine out of ten times, my phone would ring, and there he will be on the speaker phone trying to convince me otherwise, it was hard to say ‘no’ to Dean Potter. Under his gregarious personality and sense of humor, he was also kind and generous. Even when he disagreed with me, I still liked him and respected him. What an unimaginable tragedy. My heartfelt condolences to the Potter family. RIP Bob!
– Yajni Warnapala, Chair, Professor of Mathematics
I had known Bob for 11+ years, and my relationship with him grew accidentally and organically- having been recruited to serve on the Engineering Professional Advisory Board and getting to know him on a personal level over the years. He inspired me to be better, to do more, to set an example- and- because of Bob- had become a champion of everything being done to promote the Engineering curriculum and the construction of the new building at RWU.
Bob unselfishly offered his personal assistance to me and my son when he attended RWU. He was the definition of a fine man, a good man, a committed man. I grew to be his friend, and in my many visits to the University, he always found time to chat and exchange ideas. I will miss him, as I know many others will. My deepest condolences to Bob’s family .
– David Gaskill, member of RWU School of Engineering Professional Advisory Board
SECCM & RWU lost an outstanding Dean, a wonderful teacher and a great human. He taught us the toughest classes in our curriculum, but somehow, they were fun, demanding, exciting and easy to follow.
He made no assumptions in the classroom, he made sure we are all on the same page and got a fair and equal learning opportunity. I will miss him the next time I visit campus. He will always be in my memory. His sense of humor was unbelievable. His laugh and his jokes will forever echo in my mind.
People who know me back then, know how much I value this man as a teacher and as a person. There are many others who feel the same.
Dr. P, thank you!
– Faihan A. Alfahani, ME Class of 2016
I will miss your stories and presence and, more importantly, your kindness, unconditional support, commitment, consistency, acceptance, guidance, and friendship. You are an inspiration to so many of us, and your place will forever remain in our hearts and minds. A man, as remarkable as you are, will never be forgotten.
Rest In Peace!
– Gokhan Celik
Sending my sincerest condolences to Dean Potter’s family. He was a wonderful colleague with a warm smile and great sense of humor. I enjoyed our conversations and time together over the years as we planned SECCM events. May happy memories warm our hearts as we grieve together.
– Meghan Hansen / RWU
I am deeply saddened to hear of the untimely passing of Dean Potter. I have nothing but fond memories of him from when I worked in the advancement office. He was always there-willing and ready to do anything you asked of him. May his legacy at RWU live on and may he rest in peace eternally.
– Eileen Graham, RWU Advancement Office, 2010-2014
It was a genuine pleasure to work with Bob. My deepest condolences to his family.
– Lynn Ruggieri - RWU Faculty
Everyone that you meet affects your life, but some people do more. Some change the trajectory of your life by simply knowing them.
Dean Potter was one of those people for me and for most who knew him. His high expectations of each of us showed us the extent of what we could accomplish.
I may have already forgotten a lot of the Heat Transfer and Thermodynamics that he taught me but I will never forget the life lessons and the memories that were shared in RWU SECCM.
– Briana Tremblay, Class of 2017
Bob was an exemplary and supportive person to his colleagues, friends and students but he was also one of the most humble and giving individuals that I know. My heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. He will be missed but not forgotten.
– Jim Dorothy SECCM RWU
RIP Dean Potter.
Deepest sympathy to his family, friends, colleagues and RWU students.
– Suzanne Cookson
Such a loss! Our condolences to his entire family and the Roger Willams Community
– Robin Nichols
With a heavy heart, my deepest sympathies to Dean Potter's family. He was a bright spot in my day. He would come for lunch to Lower Commons for a burger and fries and always brought a smile.
– Melissa Hayes, Bon Appetit
My sincere condolences to his family and colleagues at the engineering department.
– Mohamad Ghulam, Mechanical Engineering student, Class of 2015
Dean Potter was so much more than a dean and a professor. He was an advisor, an advocate, a supporter, a friend, and above all, a true inspiration to his students. He supported and loved every one of his students, made an impact on so many lives, and that’s how he will be remembered. I speak for so many when I say I would not be where I am today without his support. He will be missed dearly, but the impact he left on his students and peers will never be forgotten.
– Madison Newton, Class of 2017
Dean Potter was a stand up man, a mentor, an inspiration, and most of all, a friend. From endless office hours talking about heat transfer or solar splash, to attending my dance club shows, I’ll never forget our witty banter. Most of all, I’ll miss your guidance. I’m so thankful to have spent four years in your department. Trust me, one day we will have that lunch in the new engineering building you worked so hard for. My deepest condolences to my RWU community.
– Megan Krisowaty, Class of 2018
Bob took such joy in his job. He worked harder, both intellectually and physically, than anyone to advance the SECCM, its staff, and its students. He was a tireless advocate and selfless in so many ways. He could offer a comforting word when needed, a stern rebuke when deserved, and a smile most other times. We will miss him greatly.
– Bill Palm, Engineering faculty
Dean Potter showed genuine care, commitment, and advocacy for each and every one of his students. His work went well beyond the classroom, and I feel grateful to have known him. Dean Potter, you will be so missed.
– Olivia Ryan, Engineering Class of 2020
So sorry to hear the loss of the excellent person Dean Potter, my condolences to his family and RWU community, we will miss you.
– Custodian of School of Engineering Joe Sousa
In the midst of this devastating news, I take solace that my heartbreak is due to the fact that my life was changed for the better just by knowing Dean Potter. As a freshman, I didn't have a clue what I was in for and it took Dean Potter pushing me, like every one of his students, to the limit, so that we could realize the potential that he already believed in. It was difficult with many endless nights and tests that could make you cry, but his vibrant personality, always eager to show off what students are working on, or their senior capstone projects, - not unlike a father showing off their kids artwork on the fridge - made it all worth it.
He encouraged us all to be better and led by example. He did every timed test, calculated every hard problem, and tackled the hardest projects. His latest, the new engineering building, is a testament to his drive and devotion, and an example of how he always wanted the best for his students and was dedicated to making that happen. Dean Potter made sure that regardless of who you were or where you came from, when you walked in to SECCM, your identity was from then on out, part of the SECCM family. In the midst of being devastated by this loss, I can't help but be grateful to have had a teacher that could have such a profound impact on my life.
– Meghan Hatzipetro, ME, Class of 2017
Dean Potter will be missed by the whole campus community. He was such a great man. We loved when he came to the Financial Aid Office to grab a piece of candy and just chat with us. We were very lucky to have known him. My condolences to the entire family.
– Anne Marie Higgins - Financial Aid Office
My heart goes out to Bob's family and friends. I am so happy that he got to see his SECCM expansion finished on his watch but am so sad that he did not get the retirement he so richly deserved. So sad.
– Michael J. Yelnosky, Professor of Law
Bob often gave me a quizzical look - I attended Annapolis -- He knew details about all of us, which reflected his genuine interest in everyone and generated a warmth to make all of us feel welcome. I am so glad SECCM was completed on his watch and he got to hold the commissioning ceremony (sorry Bob, the Navy runs strong).
– W.Brett McKenzie -- RWU Faculty
A man who truly loved his job and his students. He will certainly be missed around campus.
Godspeed Dean Potter.
– Lori Palmieri
This is an incredible loss for all who knew Dean Potter and all the students who will not have the opportunity to learn from him directly. He truly loved what he did and cared for every single student and I will cherish my memories of 8am Heat Transfer! He was a key supporter for many groups at RWU, including the Society of Women Engineers and on behalf of my time as an officer, we will be forever grateful. The new labs will, in my mind, be a constant reminder of all his hard work and dedication to his SECCM family. He will be remembered fondly!
– Ariane Marquant, SECCM Student Class of 2017
Condolences and deepest sympathy to the Potter family. So many good memories, will miss the good humored interactions and conversations. A true gentleman and scholar.
– Gerry Keaveney, Facilities Management RWU.
My deep condolence to his family, beloved ones and to RWU Community. He was a great man.
– Osamah Alkobraish (Sam), SECCM Alumni 2018
Dean Potter was the best professor and mentor I’ve ever had. He was dedicated to his students and was always there to listen. He meant a lot to me and my education, I wish I could thank him again.
– Ashley Currivan, Mechanical Engineering Class of 2014
I was lucky to have Dean Potter as both a professor and advisor for my senior design project. He was a great teacher and never failed to put a smile on students faces throughout his lessons. He will be missed greatly and his legacy will live on through all of the students he has impacted.
– Max Plasker, Class of 2017
Dean Potter and I spoke at length on Grand Opening Tour Day of the new Engineering School. He was so proud of the labs and equipment, especially the construction crane!
– Harvey Ussach, Writing Studies faculty
The world lost a good man today. I’m fortunate to have known him and have his influence in my life. SECCM Alum 06’
– Eric Bottaro
Bob was a supportive colleague and a very kind person. He will be profoundly missed.
– Karen Ethier
So sad. Being taught by Dean Potter was one of my Son’s (‘19) favorite things about RWU. He leaves behind a wonderful legacy.
– Susan Chase Walsh
I am heartbroken over this news. Dean Potter has been an advocate for me in my career since I met him 18 years ago. He was like having a father watch out for me during my time at RWU and has been a cheerleader of myself, my husband (we met in the SECCM building) and my family as it has grown. Visiting campus will never be the same for us. Praying for his wife and children, we are all mourning with you.
– Meg Kearney
May his soul and memory be eternal as he travels into Paradise.
– Litsa Monsell
We spent a lot of time talking about turning negatives into positives, but I’m at a loss at how to do that with this situation. So I can only follow your lead, stay optimistic, and look for the good. Fortunately there’s a lot of good.
It was good that you were my mentor, and became my friend. It was good that we got to be teammates for two seasons on magical clubs. It was good that you came into my life and will influence me forever.
I miss you already. We sure had fun, it won’t be the same without you. Thank you for leaving us in great shape, we’ll do our best to make you proud.
Fare-thee-well Dr. P,
The many memories already shared underscore just how much Bob meant to our campus community. He was sincerely one of the most genuine, dedicated people I've had the opportunity to work with and you'll find few people anywhere who cared so much about doing what's best for the students. He was always great for a laugh and a smile, even when he was telling us why his way was the right way (and yes, he was right). Though none of us will ever understand why he was taken from us so soon, we are all fortunate to have known him. My deepest condolences to his family and all who knew Bob for such a tremendous void he leaves behind. His light will shine brightly on our campus for many years to come.
– Marcus Hanscom, Graduate Admission
Dean Potter treated everyone the same. I am happy we exchanged emails last week about his planned retirement. So sorry that he will not be able to fulfill his plans. He was a great Dean, and person.
– Joann Silva, SAAHP, RWU
Rest In Peace and thank you very much for your contribution to making this world a better place!
– Porter, 2020
Bob was one of the most important mentors and supporters for me as a young faculty member, and was vitally important to my personal and professional development. His influence plays out in the way I teach, administrate, and interact with students. He was an amazing example, advisor and friend. He will be missed greatly.
– Ben McPheron, Former SECCM Faculty
Dean Potter always shared his enthusiasm for education with all of his students. It didn't matter if it was a good or bad day on campus, he would always make his rounds around the building and his presence never failed to bring a smile to everyone's faces.
– Scott Pelis, Engineering Class of 2021
Bob...always so very helpful, kind and loved the smile/laughter even as he continually promised to beat me on the racquetball court. Appreciate the assistance during my orientation nearly 17 years ago, support for my research/grant and for just generally being a good person. Already missing you around here, but you of course will never be forgotten.
He is more then Dean Potter to me....he is a mentor, an inspiration, a supporter, a role model, a hero, a shoulder to lean on, a friend and family. I will miss hearing about him, I will miss how remarkable and dedicated he was to this University, I will miss him. Find your peace as his legacy will forever live on.
– Becky Denson
Bob was one of the first people I met when I joined the RWU family. He and Charlie Thomas ran the summer teaching workshop during the 2009 summer, and I was immediately impressed with his passion for teaching, commitment to RWU, and his sense of humor. Bob was always good for a smile and a "Good Morning!" every time I saw him. He was one of those people who made the campus feel like a community. I will always remember his graciousness, his laugh, his love of Roger Williams University, and his commitment to his students. We will miss you Bob.
– Sean Varano, School of Justice Studies
Dean Potter, From meeting him at orientation, having classes with him, and sitting down with him for the random chat in the middle of the day, he was always the realist, most enthusiastic and the most inspiring person I have ever met. When consulting him for his advice about post grad plans he was genuinely more excited than my family was, he actually thought his students had no limits. The man couldn't have a bad day, and genuinely cared more for those around him than himself.
– Nick Canter, Class of 2021
I didn't know Bob very well, but he was always very nice and supportive. I know, too, that he was loved by some of my good friends who are faculty in the school of engineering. I am so saddened by this absolutely unfair event in the universe and hope his family and friends are able to find peace in this tragedy.
– Elliott Miles McKinley, Associate Professor of Music
When I first saw the email about his passing, I was speechless. It felt like a bad dream. I could not (and still can't) believe that this happened to him. His family, friends colleagues, and people that were his students all have my condolences.
– Asaiah Jefferson-Sampson
So sorry to hear the loss of such a great person! He was very welcoming when I met him. God bless him and his family
– Aaron Judge
When switching my major to CM junior year, emailing Dean Potter was the first thing I did. He was excited about my interest in the program starting out his reply with "hi Mr. Palermo." To his surprise the next day when I showed up for our meeting, I was actually Ms. Palermo.
He was so encouraging and helped me every step of the way which has brought me to loving the field I am going to be entering. I will always be thankful for how he believed in me even when I doubted myself.
– Taylor Palermo, Class of 2021
I am forever grateful to Dean Potter ("Bob") for giving me the opportunity to teach at RWU, and mentoring me over the past couple of years. He valued good teaching, supported his faculty, and always had a positive attitude. Bob will be greatly missed.
– Pamela Judge, Assistant Professor of Engineering, 2018 - Present
I have known Dr. Potter for many years and he was more than a colleague he was a close and dear friend. He always saw the good in any situation and had a way of making me smile even during some difficult times. He has touched so many lives at RWU and he made RWU a better place. We shared a love and passion for the game of ice hockey and often spent countless hours talking about the team and the sport. He was a true “hockey guy”. Without him there is no RWU Ice Hockey. His determination and relentless work is what brought ice hockey back to RWU. He is The Godfather of RWU Ice Hockey. I will miss our talks and his presence on campus. He was one of the finest men I have ever come to know. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Patti and his family.
God bless & RIP Bob
– Mark J Andreozzi, Assistant Athletic Director
I had the extreme pleasure of working with Dean Potter at the grand opening of our brand new attraction CYBORG at Six Flags New England. His passion and commitment to Engineering was inspiring. His love and commitment to his students was evident in everything he did. You will be missed and your legacy for STEM will live on. Well done Potter, well done.
– Jennifer McGrath, Spokesperson for Six Flags New England
Although I did not know Dr. Potter for very long, his influence will resonate with me for the foreseeable future. Whenever I would meet with him, whether it was to just talk about his time at West Point or to discuss questions for my class, his charisma, and dedication - to everything he does - would stand out. On more than one occasion he would try to talk me into adding Engineering as my second major, knowing that I only have one more semester as a bio student; and because of what I previously said, I would need to stop and think before blurting out something along the lines of "yes". It's tragic to have lost such an inspirational person, and a great professor, and I hope he is resting peacefully. Farewell Dr. Potter.
– Daniel Meglino, Thermodynamics Student Class of 2021
So sorry to hear about Bob. Condolences to his family in the toughest of times.
– John Ferreira
Bob will be solely missed at RWU and my condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues. Bob's legacy will live on with the new SECCM Labs building that he put his heart and soul into for RWU SECCM students today and for those RWU SECCM students tomorrow. May he rest in peace.
– Shawn Platt, 1986 alumnus as well as a current colleague
Such a friendly man. We will miss seeing him in the coffee shop each morning.
– Madeline Pope, Class of 2021
Dean Potter was a great Professor and all around person. I’m grateful I got to spend last year in his senior design group and enjoyed meeting with him weekly. Sending prayers to his family, RIP.
– Mike Rhodes, ENGR class of 2020
I had the honor to work with Dean Potter when I became Dean of the School of Justice Studies in 2000. During the next four years Dean Potter was a mentor and more importantly a good friend. I will always cherish his calmness in every storm and his devotion to family and the University.. Rest in Peace my friend.
– Adjunct Professor Anthony M. Pesare '76
My condolences to his family and the RWU community. What a loss.
– Maryam Ghatee
Dean Potter played a key role in my decision to come to RWU. After the info session at accepted student's day, he took time to talk to me and my family and encouraged me to come here. He made me feel like I was already home.
– Alyssa Foerster, Construction Management Student Class of 2023
Dean Potter taught me so much in such a short time. I will always remember his kind leadership, his contagious joy, and his passion for teaching. He is terribly missed. My deepest condolences to his family, friends, and students.
– Allison Marn
Dean Potter made people laugh with his great sense of humor and friendly personality. He will be missed by many and his legacy will live on. Condolences to his family.
– Tricia Pires
We’ve interacted a few times and he was such a nice guy! I had the pleasure of helping him out in his office with computer stuff and he was very lively. He’s definitely contributed to the RWU community in a positive way that truly shows the character he had.
– Daniela Catrambone, Class of 2021
He was an advocate for his students, and was always willing to go the extra mile to help them succeed. I will miss all the interactions and bantering we had together these last 20 years. My heart goes out to his family. A bright light extinguished too soon.
– Debbie Sylvia
Dean Potter always greeted me with an enthusiastic " Hi Bob!" to which I would reply "Hi Bob!" As a newer employee here at RWU he made me feel very welcome. It was always a pleasure to see Bob and I'll miss our daily exchanges. Rest well Dean Potter, you will be missed.
– Bob Frank, Classroom and Event Support Specialist, ITCES
The final verse of the West Point Alma Mater goes, “and when our work is done, our course on earth is run, may it be said well done, be thou at peace….”
Well done, sir!
– Bill Seymour
Bob was incredibly supportive and kind to me, and always quick with a thank you or complement for one of the IT staff. He will be missed, but also he will be remembered.
– Karen Ethier, Information Technology Department
When I was first hired, I immediately started looking for a racquetball partner. Everyone suggested Dean Potter. Though we didn't play too many times last year due to our work schedules, Dean Potter gave me a run for my money. His fierce competitiveness on the court and his genuine interest in our field hockey program was incredible. Dean Potter had a fantastic way about him when playing. Heck, his finesse and drop shots were note worthy! He would make me feel confident during the match and in the same breathe would compete to win. It isn't too often you come across a fierce competitor like him.
Dean Potter, thank you for welcoming me and affording me the opportunity to play racquetball with you.
Sending lots of love and thoughts to all.
– Kelly Blackhurst, Head Field Hockey Coach
One of the most genuine people I know. He was so very kind to me and to my daughter who he advised in her freshman year. He never forgot her and constantly asked about her. The last was just a few days ago. His smile and infectious laugh will be missed. My deepest condolences to all of us here at RWU and his beloved family.
– Catherine Tobin '14, Manager of Parking and Transportation.
When I came in for freshman orientation, I was really stressed and confused by why I wasn’t taking calc right away. Dean Potter came up, out of nowhere and told me everything would be fine and explained the circumstances of my major. I’d never met him before and yet he was able to make me feel ok.
– Nick Gross, Class of 2023
Dean Potter came to the Upper Commons dining hall almost every day for lunch. He knew us all by first name and always appreciated us cooking for him. The Dining Staff will miss him dearly.
– James Gubata, GM Dining Services
You will be missed Dean Potter. Condolences to the family.
– Krystal Sweet
I got to serve with Bob on the professional development committee. He always brought energy to every meeting. I sought his opinion many times. I will miss him.
– John Fobert, Library Faculty member
He always cared for his students and lived his life purely to help us learn about and love the STEM field. Will always be an inspiration for all.
– Morgan Kiley, Computer Science Student Class of 2023
Very few people have influenced my life the way Dean Potter did. Thank you for being there, you will be missed forever and always. You were such a great person. RIP
Absolutely gutted by this. RIP sir.
R.I.P. ! A true leader !
He was my dean for my first year. Really nice guy the two or three times we interacted. You could tell he cared from a mile away. Somehow, i miss him. And i didn't even know him
Very sad. What a big loss for so many.
It feels so unreal to have lost Dean Potter. He was a great professor and a great guy...
He was such a great person! Really enjoyed my time around him. So sorry for the loss and god bless his family.
Rest in Peace, He gave me assistance through every academic process. A stand up man for sure.
He was always a bright spot in my day . Happy , fun and ready to dig into anything. I will miss him . My heart is with his family.
– Linda G. Potts
The best of the best. He will be missed. Condolences to the family
– Anne Marie Higgins
Dean Potter played a big role in how I got to where I am today. I am eternally grateful for his leadership, counsel, compassion, and understanding. He genuinely loved his school, his students, and his university. He will definitely live on in my memory and leaves a wonderful legacy for all of us to share.
– Russell Beauchemin
I am truly saddened by this news, he was a great guide and a honest friend. May his soul rest in peace and his legacy continue on in those who follow in his path.
– Charles Thangaraj
Dean Potter was a great man. He was always willing to help. My sincere condolences to his family, friends, colleagues and students. May he rest on paradise.
– Cheryl Francis
So sad ... Sending prayers to his family
– Tracey Robinson Faria
A great loss to RWU - One of the main reasons my son is there now-so very caring and helpful. Condolences to his family, friends and students.
– Monica Lemieux Larssen
So sad to hear. RIP- thank you for all you did for the RWU students. Deepest sympathy to family, friends and his students.
– Suzanne Cookson
My son had many nice things to say about Dean Potter and was telling us about a nice interaction with him last week. Condolences to his family
– Ray Lyons
A sad day, my condolences to Dean Potters family, he was a great man who influenced so many, I wouldn’t be where I was today without his guidance, he will be missed
– Joe Raposo
Very sad to hear. He was a great man and a great professor.
– Ike William