On Wednesday, March 4, Michael Kearl, professor of sociology and anthropology, died following a heart attack while walking across campus. According to a Trinity emergency incident update at 1:25 p.m. that day, Kearl died shortly after arriving at the hospital.
Kearl came to Trinity in 1977, and was chair of the department of sociology and anthropology froom 2001 to 2006. Kearl also served on various university boards, including as a sponsor for the Rotaract Club and was the marshall of the procession during commencement. Additionally Kearl was also a prolific writer and author of an award-winning website, “A Sociological Tour Through Cyberspace”, accessed by over one million visitors across the world. Kearl is survived by his wife Joan and his two sons Frank and Zachary.
Sean McCutchen, junior and president of SGA, recalled witnessing the incident following his morning class.
“I got out of my class at 11:20 a.m. and saw a group of students standing over someone who looked passed out. I walked closer and saw it looked like a professor. TUPD arrived shortly after and began administering CPR. The students had [already] called 911, so the paramedics showed up shortly after that,” McCutchen said.
McCutchen also stated how shocking the incident was, and what followed after he arrived.
“I never saw Dr. Kearl make any movements besides the shock from the defibrillator, so I had assumed the worst,” McCutchen said. “They must have kept trying to do CPR for about 20 minutes before Dean Tuttle asked everyone to leave so they could have privacy. Everyone I saw looked completely in shock and it was eerily silent.”
Trinity students, faculty and staff alike were dismayed by the sudden news and have been quick to show respect for Kearl and share memories of his contributions to Trinity.
“It’s just a tremendous loss. Michael Kearl was right at the heart of everything we do at this department and this campus,” said David Spener, chair of sociology and anthropology. “He was tremendously dedicated to his students, his colleagues””sociology was his life’s work. He took great joy in what he did here with students, and students loved him for it.”
Both students and faculty echoed this sentiment with many students voicing their memories of Kearl.
“Dr. Kearl’s passion for his work and for his students came through in absolutely everything he did. He constantly worked to push his students further and treated every contribution as something important, making it clear that he felt he could learn from us as we could from him,” said senior Maddie Winchester. “I wish that I could tell him how much he’s inspired me.”
Other students shared similar memories, offering stories of their time with Kearl and his passion as an educator and individual.
“Once, I had a mid-semester freak-out and wasn’t sure if I [was] capable of pursuing a career path and degree I had always thought I wanted to pursue. I went to talk to Dr. Kearl about a paper I was writing for his class and I told him about my dilemma,” said sophomore Alyssa Cuda.
Cuda went on to explain how Kearl truly cared for all students.
“He immediately pulled up Facebook and started to pull up former students he had that had chosen to pursue that career and told me to connect them and say, “˜Dr. Kearl sent you,'” Cuda said. “He was a professor that truly cared about the individuality, passions and potential of each student.”
At 5 p.m. March 24, in Stieren Theater, Trinity will hold a “Celebration of Life” for Kearl. The event will also be streamed live online at live.trinity.edu.