Celebrating the impact of former Dean Don Brodie

Monday, November 6, 2023
Image Don attempting Puzzle

It is with great sadness that the Faculty of Science shares that two-term Dean Don Brodie passed away in October.

When Don retired in 1995, it marked the end of an illustrious career at the University of Waterloo that started in the 1960s. When Don came to UW he knew there was something special here and he wanted the world to know it. He was a champion in promoting co-op within Physics, and the broader Science faculty, and really put UW Science on the map with many employers. After that, he became the Dean of Science from 1982-1990, and was able to make an even broader impact on the Faculty of Science during his tenure.

You can learn more details about Don from a post-retirement staff profile and his obituary, but we also wanted to share some kind words sent to us by those who worked with him during his time in Physics and as Dean.

Image of Don in St. John at CAP

“Don worked on amorphous semiconductors including silicon and the II-VI compounds. He was my MSc and PHD supervisor and so I got to know him as a mentor and later as a friend. As one of his grad students, we had great times at his cottage driving dune buggies (stripped down VW beetles) and at his home in the country driving snowmobiles.”
-James Webb

“Don was an illustrious member of the Physics Department. Apart from serving as the Chair of the Department and the Dean of the Faculty, he was also the founding Director of (GWP)^2 (Guelph-Waterloo Program for Graduate Work in Physics, later changed to GWPI, Guelph-Waterloo Physics Institute).

Don was a very friendly and vibrant person. Any conversation I had with him was punctuated by bursts of laughter. He was always well dressed but what made him distinct was that unique smile he wore on his lips.”
-Raj Pathria

“I remember Don's little speeches to prospective coop employers telling them the physicists were far better than the engineering students! He would ask them what chemical, civil, electrical and mechanical engineering students could do for them, and then he would brazenly tell them that physicists could do all that and would be even better in later years because they understood the fundamentals!

Don had that old rusty Pontiac parked in the Physics lot for a while, and it didn't look too bad because the rust was practically the same colour as the car. They took that car to a salvage lot later on.“ -John Vanderkooy