Passing: Roger M. Beattie
May 18, 2011
May 13, 1935 - May 3, 2011
Dr. Roger M. Beattie served in various roles as teacher and administrator in the Boston public school system until his retirement in the late 1980's. He lived in Center Barnstead, NH and still had the desire to contribute to education and student development. In 1990 he began investigating options for making those contributions at the University of New Hampshire and eventually found his way to then president Dale Nitzschke and Bruce Mallory. Prof. Mallory, the Chair of the Department of Education, jumped at the opportunity to utilize his skills and experience. Dr. Beattie initially taught a section of Exploring Teaching and supervised teacher education graduate interns, but his role quickly expanded.
Dr. Beattie soon noticed the small number of students of color at UNH and the lack of support systems for them. He collaborated with Judy Spiller to create and develop the CONNECT Program for students of color in 1994 and began working to recruit minority students throughout the Northeast, encouraging them to consider UNH as a good choice for their education. Enrollment of minority students grew and CONNECT gradually evolved and expanded into the substantial orientation and support program that it is today.
Minority and nonminority parental attitudes of the effectiveness of elementary magnet and nonmagnet school programs was the title of Roger Beattie's dissertation as he earned his Ph.D. from Boston College in 1990. He continued to be an instructor in education at Simmons College until recent years and was an accomplished artist. Painting in acrylics and oils, his images often reflected strong religious, spiritual, and cultural themes as he displayed his work at numerous regional settings.
While Dr. Beattie held a variety of official titles during his 21 years at UNH as adjunct professor; special assistant to the vice provost for enrollment management; and coordinator of minority recruitment and retention, his central role never truly seemed to waiver. He was a focused and enthusiastic supporter of minority students, determined to witness their academic and personal success despite financial, academic, and personal challenges. He was never hesitant to take the evening phone call from a student (or parent) needing counsel. He was known for his willingness to 'text' back and forth with students since he now saw that as the most effective way to communicate with them, and for personally escorting undergraduates to the appropriate person or office to make sure they took care of critical details that kept them in school. He was also famous for his ongoing Academic Honors Lists, proudly taping them to his office door each semester as he knew it was important to highlight those who were thriving, as well as facilitating support for those who were struggling.
Large numbers of alumni and current students considered Dr. Beattie to be a highly significant mentor in their lives. Many others saw him as a father figure and role model. Students in CONNECT and dozens of staff with whom he worked honored him in May, 2010 with a surprise birthday party. Even at his age of 75 he was focusing our attention and his quiet energy on the aspirations and needs of students of color.
Dr. Roger M. Beattie died after an extended period of poor health on May 3, 2011. He leaves behind his wife, children, and grandchildren.