SANTA CRUZ -- University officials will release details soon about a public memorial service for Don Rothman, a longtime UC Santa Cruz faculty member at Oakes College who died Wednesday.
Rothman, 67, died in his sleep at his Santa Cruz home, according to UC Santa Cruz.
He joined Oakes College as a lecturer in 1973 and is known for developing writing courses that helped students find their voice on campus and engage with the wider world.
"Don cared deeply about students and was innovative in his approach to writing instruction, which he regarded as crucial for all students, especially first-generation and underrepresented students," UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal said. "There are thousands of alumni, from places around the world, who owe much of their success to Don's tireless commitment to teach communication skills. We all feel an enormous loss with his passing."
Rothman used writing as a vehicle to enhance democracy, especially in the area of nonviolent persuasion, and served as a mentor to his faculty colleagues for decades.
"Don played the role of the person who made us always want to question and see what we had forgotten, or whether we had gotten complacent," said Carol Freeman, senior lecturer emerita in writing. "It's too easy to become self-satisfied. In any kind of organization, you need to have someone play that role. And for him to do this, while at the same time remaining positive and pleasant, was invaluable."
Rothman retired in 2007, and in 2010 delivered the commencement address at Oakes, saying he taught in such a way that helped students "express themselves in writing with passion, purpose, and pleasure" to create a more just world.
His broader commitment to education was evident through his involvement in such projects as the Central California Writing Project, which he directed for nearly three decades. The UCSC organization aims to improve the quality of writing instruction in Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties, starting in kindergarten.
Rothman twice served as acting provost of Oakes, and on many academic senate committees. He also was a longtime supporter of Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and for many years served on the group's board of directors.
He also authored several books, including "One Way of Seeing: Photographs and Essays During a Time of Reflection," which combined his lifelong interests in writing and photography. "Looking for Bethlehem," is a collection of photos of a defunct Pennsylvania steel mill, while "How To Teach Writing ... and Why," codifies his guiding principles from 40 years of teaching.
Survivors include his wife, Diana; children, Dov and Naomi; and grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations for the Dreamer's Fund, which supports undocumented students, or to Shakespeare Santa Cruz.
Donations should be made payable to the UC Santa Cruz Foundation, with a note to the fund being supported, and sent to University Relations, Attn: Kathy Rouhier, 1156 High St., Santa Cruz, CA 95064.