With sadness, we write to inform you that Dr. Laura Wadenpfuhl passed away last weekend. Her friend and colleague of many years, Professor Barbara Hildner, has written this beautiful tribute in her memory:
It is with great sadness that I tell you Laura Wadenpfuhl died last Saturday in New Orleans after a long illness. Laura was a scholar and inveterate reader who joined NJCU‘s English department in September 1998. She served the English department in many capacities, including as chair before she was tenured, and she was an essential organizer of many department social events. Laura was also a committed member of many campus committees and organizations, always coming to meetings with ideas that deserved consideration.
Laura’s passion, however, was her teaching. She selected works for her literature courses with great care, hoping that her students would experience the excitement of reading a beautifully written book they might not encounter elsewhere, but that stimulated the mind and inspired the imagination. She and her students would discover together the strategic choices made by authors to create something wonderful.
In her composition courses, Laura made clear to her students that they had the ability to write persuasively and well. She and they would work together to achieve this. A colleague told me this week that she participated in a pilot program that required her to exchange student essays with Laura. She could tell from reading Laura’s essays how well she taught her students and how much they progressed. I have the office next to Laura’s and over the years have overheard her student conferences. Laura was patient and supportive as she expertly helped her students to understand how to develop their ideas cogently and with the linguistic attention they deserved. The students appreciated what they were learning. If I gave Laura this text, I know that she would revise it in a number of ways, not because it is about her, but because she would want it to be better.
Laura made many friends throughout her life, often in an academic setting where she was a student or a teacher. These friendships were enduring and important to her, and she nurtured them with care. I had the good fortune to be one of Laura’s friends, and I am grateful for the time we had as professional neighbors who enjoyed many dinners together at Laico’s on Monday nights.
We think of Laura as coming from Long Island, but an important and beloved home for her was New Orleans from which she commuted to NJCU regularly without compromising her professorial work. Members of her family gathered in New Orleans this week for a viewing. There are no plans for any wake or funeral in New York. If this changes, I will let you know.