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In Memoriam: Christopher P. Cirmo, 1954-2017

Chris Cirmo, a dean at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point who championed civil discourse, critical thinking and access to public higher education, died unexpectedly in May. 

Cirmo, 63, served as the dean of the College of Letters and Science since 2009. 

“Chris, above all, was a person of integrity, honesty and compassion. He was an ethical leader who always advocated for our students, faculty and staff. Our university is a better place because of his dedication, hard work and kindness,” said Chancellor Bernie Patterson

Cirmo launched a civil discourse initiative and worked with colleague Dona Warren to advance critical thinking.

“He was deeply committed to helping people become more scientifically literate so they could be more savvy consumers of information,” she said. The Civil Discourse Initiative, which included public forums on topics with multiple viewpoints, raised awareness on vetting a variety of voices in a civil manner. 

The first in his family to attain a Ph.D., Cirmo was passionate about providing opportunities for students who didn’t think they could attend college, said Warren. “He was deeply committed to access opportunities and to helping students realize their potential and fulfill it. That was probably his guiding principle.” 

His public service mission externally was to collaborate with and serve local needs, Warren said. Cirmo sought creative ways to offer education, establishing collaborative online degree programs and an aquaponics certificate program. 

He was instrumental in launching majors in health information management and technology, data analytics and social work. He established minors in aquaculture, biomedical writing and re-established an environmental studies minor.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara Cirmo, and two children, Amethyst Sloane and Ethan Cirmo.

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