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In Memoriam


The Michael Nilsen-Baumwoll Endowed Scholarship Fund for Music

Michael Baumwoll ’92 (Political Science) passed away unexpectedly on August 22, 2021. His wife, Liz Nilsen ’94 (Music), daughters Maya and Clara, family, and friends were devastated.

At the time of his death, Michael was the CEO and Founder of Digital DuJour, offering consultant services for overall interactive and online media strategy.

Liz is an accomplished violist who helped start the Rivertown Strings Quartet. Both daughters play violin. Feeling like he needed to pay tribute to his son’s memory, Michael’s father Joel thought of no better way to honor his son’s memory than to establish a scholarship in his name at his son and daughter-in-law’s alma mater. The Michael Nilsen-Baumwoll Endowed Scholarship Fund for Music became a reality.

The scholarship will benefit one rising senior every year who demonstrates both financial need and extraordinary talent. Visit to donate.

Geoffrey Ahern, MD, PhD ’76 (Psychology) passed away unexpectedly in March 2022. A well-known and highly regarded expert in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, Geoffrey had no surviving family. His colleagues at the University of Arizona honored him with a memorial and tribute.

Garth “Mike” Noonan Montgomery Jr. ’76 (History) died on October 12, 2022. He earned his PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Mike taught European History and World History in Dallas, Texas and since 1993 at Radford University, Virginia. He retired in December 2021.

Meagan Frances (McGlinchey) Lamb ’08 (History) passed away April 8, 2022; she was 37. At Purchase, she was active in the History Club and Office of Residence Life. In her senior year, she was given a Student Volunteerism award and recognized for the best senior thesis in History.

Perry Reinhardt Kerr ’09 (Cinema Studies) died on May 2, 2022; he was 35. He traveled extensively as a backpacker and enjoyed creating art in many forms.

Allison Rose Hammer ’10 (Liberal Studies) passed away suddenly on October 28, 2021. She lived most recently in Montclair, NJ, and was employed as the marketing manager of CW Brabender Instruments, Inc. Allison loved the marching band and playing the trombone.

Dominick James Simone ’13 (Liberal Studies) passed away on June 30, 2022. He was a former baseball standout at Purchase College.

Joshua M. Nielson ’14 (Language and Culture) died on September 30, 2022. At Purchase, he assisted in creating the men’s swim team. Trained as an emergency medical technician, he worked at Saratoga Hospital. His laughter would fill the room and he found great joy in being outdoors.

Chris Hagan Knauth ’15 (Studio Production) passed away March 23, 2022. He performed his own music, and made crazy music videos. A skilled nature photographer, he also made lighthearted videos looking at plants and nature.

Amber L. Page ’16 (Liberal Studies) passed away at the age of 32 on June 5, 2022.

Faculty and Staff

Dr. Sybil Barten, professor emerita of Psychology and a founding faculty member, passed away on February 23, 2022. Joining Purchase in 1971, Barten played a singular role in defining the program’s trajectory over the first forty years of the college. She was a developmental psychologist whose early research focused on child language and gestural communication between parent and infant and later studied communication between music teachers and students through metaphorical language. Barten chaired the Division of Natural Sciences from 1986 to 1989 and retired in the late 1990s.

In 1973 Barten spearheaded the creation of The Children’s Center at Purchase College, the first full-time campus preschool in Westchester County. Founded on progressive principles of early childhood education, the Center provided an educational environment that stressed the importance of play. Seeing the pre-school years as a time to help the child develop social skills and a positive self-image ran counter to a prevailing focus on academic preparedness. In 1992, the Center achieved accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and was deemed a model lab school, a central academic resource for Purchase students.

Barten was a woman of extraordinary character, always guided by high ideals and generosity of spirit. She took on causes large and small with vigor, perseverance, and wit, making positive contributions to the many communities in which she involved herself. Born in Germany in 1933, she came to the United States a few months later (in a laundry basket!). She received her BA from Swarthmore College and her MA and PhD from Clark University.

Dr. Taina Hu Chao, a long-time member of the Chemistry department, passed away on November 29, 2022. An accomplished scientist who worked at the intersection of chemistry, physics, and biology, Chao earned degrees at Tunghai University (Taiwan), Oberlin College, and Texas A&M University before joining the Chemistry faculty as an adjunct professor in 1978. She began a tenure-track appointment in 1982 and for more than forty years, taught a range of courses, including General Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, and associated laboratories. She also maintained an active research agenda in biophysical chemistry, authored numerous articles, and received several grants.

In her Natural Sciences building lab, she sponsored dozens of senior research projects. She mentored former students beyond graduation, who have become high school science teachers, industrial chemists, and college professors. Students raved about her wonderful teaching, understanding of chemistry concepts, and clear presentation, as well as her kindness. Her success in the classroom earned Chao the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Chao also played a major role in mentoring students in the College’s Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. The summer research program prepares underrepresented community college students for advanced study and careers in STEM fields. Many of these students continued to post-graduate work, and at least two are now faculty at their respective community colleges.

After her retirement in 2011, Chao continued to teach one or more courses every year and participated regularly in other activities of the Chemistry department. She will be sorely missed.

The Taina H. Chao Faculty Fellowship Endowment, established by John Ambroseo ’83, provides an annual award in perpetuity to a select professor in Natural and Social Sciences to undertake research they would otherwise be unable to pursue. |

Dr. Bell Gale Chevigny, professor emerita of Literature and one of the founders of the literature program, passed away on November 28, 2021. Throughout her years at Purchase, her extraordinary energy, intellect, joie de vivre, and sense of engagement animated the Literature Board of Study, the School of Humanities, and the Gender Studies program and radiated throughout the entire college. Chevigny was a brilliant teacher and a pathbreaking scholar. In a move way ahead of its time, she reconceived literature as the literature of the Americas. A passionate student, scholar, and teacher, she became a published novelist later in life. When Chevigny retired, the School of Humanities honored her by establishing the Bell Chevigny Prize for Feminist Studies in the Humanities, which recognizes the work of students who follow in her footsteps.

Dr. Lee Katz, former vice president of external affairs and development, passed away peacefully on February 17, 2022. Katz joined Purchase in 1984 and also served as president of the Purchase College Foundation. Born in Brooklyn, NY, she earned a master’s degree at Syracuse University and a PhD in Adult and Continuing Education from the University of Michigan.

Chris Konzelman, lecturer of writing, passed away unexpectedly of natural causes due to an unforeseeable medical event on March 31, 2022. Konzelman served as a member of the writing faculty for more than nine years. He was an exceptionally passionate and talented teacher, committed to strengthening not only students’ critical thinking and writing but their belief in themselves. In memory of Chris, Virginia Konzelman has created the Chris Konzelman College Writing Award Endowment, which will provide awards to students who have overcome obstacles and improved academically in college writing.

Christine Persico, former dean of the School of Liberal Studies and Continuing Education (2008– 2010), passed away on November 29, 2021. Persico graduated with an EdD from Columbia University and enjoyed a fulfilling career in higher education for over 30 years.