Former Rowan president Dr. Donald Farish honored at commemoration

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Dr. Donald Farish’s Memorial service was held last Friday in Boyd Recital Hall. His colleagues and peers at Rowan University attended to commemorate his passing and celebrate his life. The service was held to honor the impact the former president of Rowan University had on the campus, and the attendee’s lives.

Speaking at the service was Dr. Eric Milou, department of mathematics, former university senate president, and current university senate member; Dr. Ali Houshmand, current university president; Jean Edelman, member of the board of trustees; Dr. Carol Sharp, former dean of the College of Education; Dr. Bill Friend, current university senate president; Dr. Cindy Vitto, former university senate president; and Karen Siefring, former American Federation of Teachers Local 2373 president, and member of Rowan’s Office of Career Advancement.

Milou went in depth on Farish’s character,

“[Dr. Donald Farish] was always honest as the day was long… he lead class with grace and dignity,” Milou said, his opening remarks setting the stage for the other speakers.

During his closing remarks, Milou spoke on the first five presidents of Rowan and how they are honored in the names of the school’s sites of education: Savitz, Bunce, Robinson, Chamberlain and James. From this he hopes the university honors Farish in a similar way.

“Don had this amazing passion and humility that I admired,” said Houshmand before reflecting on the impact that Farish had on the campus.

He explained that Farish was integral in the construction and success of Rowan Boulevard and Science Hall. Houshmand also spoke on Farish’s key role in opening Hollybush to the public. These accomplishments and more amounted to over 17 million dollars into the expansion and improvement of Rowan University.

Houshmand cap stoned his speech by emphasizing, “The most important [effect Dr. Donald Farish had on Rowan University], the acquisition of 600 acres for this campus, creating 4,000 jobs,” and saying Dr. Farish was a “great man, very simple.”

Houshmand wished to address the whole of the Rowan community.

“When someone looks back on what we did, I want people to be as awed and inspired as [Dr. Farish] has awed and inspired us,” he said.

Jean Edelman couldn’t be present at the memorial service. In her place, she had left an audio speech to honor Farish. She spoke about her memories of Farish as a former student of Rowan. Her speech centered around his continual push to help students excel.

“[Dr. Farish had] no fear for life changing projects,” Edelman said.

Sharp also spoke of anecdotes from her time with Farish, as well as his wisdom and openness.

“I came to understand he trusted me, and wanted me on his team,” Sharp said.

She provided many examples of how she and Farish learned from one other.

Friend read a speech prepared by Farish’s wife, Maia Farish, which explained her position and told of her resolution to get through the situation.

“I will never get over losing Don, but I will get through it,” Maia Farish wrote.

Dr. Vitto and Siefring spoke on the moment they heard the full story from Maia Farish. While they spoke on the sadness inherent to the situation by telling of Dr. Farish’s resolve until the very end, Vitto and Siefring also reminisced on Dr. Farish’s humor and his optimism.

The two told the audience of Farish’s decision to end his life. When the doctors protested, they recounted his words to the doctor.

“I have nothing to discuss with you,” he told them. “I have made my decision. My wife and I have made our decision.”

The death of Farish was, in the words of Vitto, a chance to teach, and this was what Farish was all about according to her. Farish’s impact will be felt for years to come by the attendees of his memorial service. A display of Farish’s gifts and items was placed outside the recital hall.

Jessie Panico, a junior vocal performance major, spoke on Farish’s major contribution to the music department, explaining the number of music related items in the display.

“That is why we are holding the memorial service here [at Boyd Recital Hall],” Panico said.

The items can be found at Rowan University’s Archives in the Campbell Library.

During the memorial service, a musical interlude by the student vocal group, Voces, performed the Moses Hogan arranged “Abide with Me.”

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