Remembering members of our cherished GSE community who have recently passed away.
A. NEIL YERKEY, professor emeritus, died on July 30, 2023. He was 85. Yerkey was a distinguished educator and scholar who dedicated his life to the betterment of education.
Born in Akron, Ohio, he earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Akron in 1959 and a master’s degree in library science from the former Western Reserve University in Cleveland in 1962. He came to UB as an assistant professor in 1977 after earning a doctorate from the School of Communication at Kent State University. Yerkey was a member of the School of Information and Library Studies faculty (previously called the School of Informatics) from 1977 until 2006. He was the recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and became a professor emeritus in 2006.
Known as a pioneer for his work bringing libraries and information science into the digital age, Yerkey helped to develop and implement “the Cleveland idea,” an online network that could build banks of information and offer free access to the internet in rural communities. This network, Buffalo Freenet, was one of the first free online networks in the nation. This network evolved into a free website host for more than 600 nonprofit agencies that lasted until 2012.
Yerkey was a member of the American Library Association, the Special Libraries Association, the American Society for Information Science and the Western New York Library Resources Council. In addition to his professional memberships, he was a deacon at his church, a member of the Western New York Fiddle Club and played Dobro guitar. When he was not teaching, Yerkey could be found with his band, Gospel Express, playing frequent gigs at the famous Earl’s Drive-In on Route 16 in Chaffee.
RACHEL S. GOODWIN, a master’s student in the Department of Information Science, passed away on May 17, 2023. She was 50 years old.
Goodwin earned her bachelor’s in childhood education from Buffalo State University. After graduation, she relocated to Boston, Massachusetts, where she welcomed a son in 2008. She eventually returned to Buffalo to work as a lead teacher at the University at Buffalo Child Care Center, where she shared her love and kindness with the students she taught.
Goodwin was passionate about education. Her goal was to work with children for the rest of her life. She was prolific in engaging with young people; they were drawn to her energy and her ability to make boring tasks fun.
“Rachel saw the field of library and information science as a path that would provide new challenges,” said Dan Albertson, chair of the Department of Information Science. “Her professional interests upon entering the program included children and youth services and lifelong learning. Rachel’s passion for books, literature and reading were at the center of her motivation, and she saw the library as a space to advance the mission of childhood literacy. The department will deeply miss Rachel and the dedication and energy she brought to our classes.”
MYRA S. RAZIK, lifelong learner and philanthropist, passed away in July 2023.
Razik was an active member of the international committee of UB’s Women’s Club, which sponsors monthly brunches for international students to interact and exchange ideas with each other and people in the community.
In partnership with her husband Taher, Myra Razik was a committed supporter of GSE and the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy (ELP). The Raziks established the Taher and Myra Razik Fellowship, which provides funding for underrepresented minority students pursuing a GSE doctoral degree in educational administration. The Raziks also funded Taher Razik Lounge, located in 463 Baldy Hall on UB’s North Campus. This lounge is exclusively for students in ELP and offers a space to study, relax and socialize.
“The Raziks truly made an impact and are fondly remembered by many alumni. From hosting students in their homes for the holidays to having casual weeknight dinners, the years at UB were wonderful times for her and her family. Many of those students were still in touch with her until her passing and called her ‘Mom Myra.’ Their commitment to ELP and to international students will not be forgotten, and their generosity will continue to make a doctoral degree more accessible for students,” said Katheryn Ross-Winnie, GSE associate director of advancement.