John Prucha, SU Professor of Geology, Passed Away Monday Night
John Prucha, a former vice chancellor of academic affairs and twice chair of the earth sciences department at Syracuse University, passed away Monday night in Syracuse.
As a geologist, Prucha was always passionate about fundamental research. This philosophy carried over to his time at SU where he stressed the importance of education and promoted close connections between faculty and students.
Early Life and Education
Early childhood education is essential for the healthy development of children. They require stimulation, interactive playtime and guidance from educators in a classroom setting.
Despite the importance of early learning, nearly half of pre-primary age children worldwide are not enrolled in quality preschool programs. This trend is especially stark among low-income countries.
In many of these countries, the private sector is already dominant and increasingly capable of providing high-quality services.
Due to the pandemic, educators in non-state early learning services have faced degraded working conditions and increased stress due to job uncertainty. Furthermore, they have reported declining levels of mental health.
John Prucha’s legacy will be his commitment to student-centered education. As faculty member in the Department of Earth Sciences, he made sure students had opportunities for special learning experiences and formed close connections with them.
Even as vice chancellor for academic affairs, his focus remained on fundamental research. Furthermore, George Langford – dean of the College of Arts and Sciences – noted that his emphasis on undergraduate education and creating a sense of community among them was an unwavering priority.
Professor Prucha’s legacy is memorialized in the endowed funds of the Geology department and an SU field research fund created in his honor. Additionally, Earth and Environmental Sciences houses a graduate program dedicated to him that bears his name. These and other honors demonstrate Prucha’s devotion to SU and to this university.
Achievements and Honors
John Prucha was an award-winning geologist and author of numerous books. He received several honorary degrees, was recognized by the American Society for History in America as an outstanding nonfiction author, and received fellowships from Guggenheim Foundation, Social Science Research Council and Huntington Library.
As a professor of geology, Prucha mentored many students who would go on to become leaders in their fields. Ken Babcock ’64, an environmental engineer, was one such example. Over the course of his career, he maintained a close relationship with Prucha; earlier this year he made a gift to the Earth Sciences Department that will fund graduate student research on contemporary environmental problems – an honorary tribute to someone who dedicated their life to nurturing our University’s future.
John Prucha was a man of many talents. He had expertise as a geologist, university administrator and author.
Vice chancellor Hester was renowned for his student-centric approach. When a question arose, he would often visit students or faculty in person rather than simply picking up the phone to discuss it.
He also strongly believed in fundamental research. From his own work as a geologist to the decisions he made as administrator, Prucha encouraged this kind of inquiry throughout all his endeavors.
His legacy lives on at SU through the John James Prucha Field Research Fund, which supports undergraduate and graduate field work for earth sciences students each year. Additionally, a graduate fellowship has been created in his honor within the department of geology.
John Prucha was a long-standing professor of geology at Syracuse University. He served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and twice chaired the department of earth sciences. A respected educator, John James Prucha ’76’s work had an impact far beyond campus boundaries – one of his students, Carlos Dengo ’76 ’76 endowed the John James Prucha Field Research Fund in his honor; providing financial assistance to undergraduate and graduate students within the department while being administered by its chair; this fund is not charitable but rather provides financial assistance for field research conducted by faculty members around Syracuse University’s campus.