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UNH Mourns Sudden Death of Grant Cioffi, Education Professor

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
March 10, 2010

Photo: Lisa Nugent, Photographic Services

The university community is mourning the recent death of Grant Cioffi, associate professor of education and one of the founders of Seacoast Reads. Cioffi died March 5. He was 58.

Cioffi came to UNH in 1980. His research focused on how individual children experience difficulty in learning to read and write, and the diagnosis and assessment of reading difficulties and disabilities. Cioffi was well known for co-founding Seacoast Reads, a nationally recognized and highly successful volunteer tutoring program that partners UNH students with elementary schoolchildren.

 “Grant was one of UNH’s finest, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to work with him and enjoy his friendship,” says Kenneth Fuld, dean, College of Liberal Arts. “He will be remembered by people all over the region - by his colleagues in education, where he once served as chair of the department; by all whose research at UNH involved the use of human subjects, through his role as chair for many years of the Institutional Review Board; by his enormous contribution in founding and overseeing Seacoast Reads; by his work in the Learning Disabilities Program at Children’s Hospital in Boston. Grant was liked by all and respected by everyone for his hard-working approach, his integrity, and his wisdom.  He was every bit a gentleman.”

Cioffi received an A.B. from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in education from University of Minnesota where he specialized in reading education and research.

While at UNH, he chaired the Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research for more than a decade, working to ensure the ethical and safe conduct of research activity. He served as chair of the education department and sat on numerous college and university committees.

With his close colleague, the late John Carney who was also a professor of education at UNH, Cioffi developed diagnostic procedures to help teachers formulate effective intervention for kids who experience reading and writing difficulty.

He travelled regularly throughout the state assisting teachers and children; for years he taught courses in literacy as a volunteer to North Country teachers who could not easily reach the Durham campus. He was also active for decades in the Learning Disabilities Program at Children's Hospital Medical Center in Boston, travelling to Boston every week to assess children with profound learning challenges and work with their families.

In 2007, Cioffi received the University Excellence in Public Service Award.

“I know we have lost a friend, a colleague, and a mentor. Grant’s contribution to others is well known through his work with Children’s Hospital, his receipt of the university’s service award, his stewardship of the IRB, his fellowship in the college, and his contribution to our department by serving as our chair and program coordinator. It is hard to think about departmental governance and not envisioning Grant assuming a leadership role,” says Todd DeMitchell, chairman of the education department.

“Grant played an important part in my life. He supported me when I waivered, he advised me when I needed it, and he stood by me when it was important to feel a strong shoulder next to me. I counted on Grant to tell me the truth, to stand for the right thing without regard for what was easy, and to find the path over, around, or through obstacles.”

A memorial service will be held at UNH later in the semester. To read a story on Cioffi’s passing and comments from colleagues go to http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100310/GJNEWS_01/703109900/-1/FosNEWS02

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