This February we lost a valued member of the Tisch College community; former Faculty Fellow Jim Schmolze, who was 53.
To honor Jim, Tisch College has established a fund in his name, which will be used over the next five years to support students or faculty who have particularly creative approaches to bridging the digital divide.
In his 2003 application to the Faculty Fellows program Jim acknowledged his desire to spread education in computing to people for whom computer technology is often not available. He was also interested in doing even more to “educate the whole person in his classes.”
Part of the inspiration for Jim’s application was his experience as a volunteer at the Long Island Shelter in Boston, which feeds and houses several hundred homeless men and women each night. After the shelter had received a gift of a dozen new computers, there was no one to teach the guests about basic computing. Jim immediately recognized this was a problem that could be solved by involving willing Tufts students, especially those studying computer science.
In the end, Jim did not have students go to the Long Island Shelter, as the situation demanded a faster quicker solution, which he helped bring about. But he did initiate a new course in Computer Science at Tufts in which student learned how to teach computing skills to the “non-literate.” His students were matched with residents in a senior housing facility in Somerville where they taught residents how to access the Internet, use email and search the Web.
“We at the Tisch College quickly learned that Jim had a lot to teach the rest of us about how to educate the whole person. His teaching was marked by his ability to get to know his students well, even as he was teaching them sophisticated computational skills. Students regularly reported that they did their best work in his classes because of the faith Jim showed in them and their abilities,” shared Faculty Programs Director Molly Mead.
Jim was also a perceptive and caring colleague. As Dean Rob Hollister noted, “When Jim had the task for several years to introduce new CS faculty at the first faculty meeting of the year, he gave delightfully thoughtful and memorable introductions-ones that truly made an impression.”
Jim, himself, would have been the first to say that he was just getting started with his work to extend computer literacy.
Donations to the fund are welcome. Checks made out to Trustees of Tufts College with a note that they are for the Jim Schmolze Fund can be sent to Rob Hollister at the Tisch College.
Originally published April 2006