Around the Quads
Kathleen McDermott, a senior administrator known for her kindness, laughter and wisdom, died on October 16 after a four-year battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. She was 67.
McDermott was born in the Bronx and earned an R.N. degree from St. Clare’s Nursing School in New York, graduating first in her class, as well as a B.A. from Lehman College and an M.A. and Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. She spent many years teaching and working in Hong Kong, Wales, Vermont and England.
Among the highlights of her 21-year tenure with Columbia, she was the College’s first residential dean in 1991, hired by then-Dean of Students Roger Lehecka ’67, ’74 GSAS; she was an adviser for study abroad and fellowships; and she was on the board of Community Impact from 1991–2006. In 2007 McDermott was named a.v.p. and director of global programs, a position from which she had recently retired. A trained psychiatric nurse, colleagues said McDermott spent many late evenings at St. Luke’s Hospital, tending to students.
“She was one of those individuals whose life was her job, and hundreds and hundreds of students benefited from her commitment,” Susan Mescher, McDermott’s friend and deputy v.p., strategic planning in the Vice President’s Office for Arts and Sciences, said in a Spectator article.
In 2010, the NAFSA: Association of International Educators selected McDermott as the recipient of the Education Abroad Leadership Award, which recognizes one member each year for “distinguished service to the education abroad profession.”
Beyond her professional achievements, McDermott was admired for her commitment to family and friendship. “She’s known for having been unaffected, tough — in a good way — wise and extraordinarily energetic with a good sense of humor,” Mary Dooley, public safety administrative coordinator, told Spectator. “She was known for her loving and caring heart and her ability to reach anyone in time of need.”
McDermott was predeceased by her son, Paul Grandpierre ’87, and a nephew, Michael. She is survived by her daughters, Claire Grandpierre and Caitlin Bell; granddaughter, Charlotte Soubirous; sister, Eileen; and brothers and sisters-in-law, Gerry and his wife, Eleanore, Dan and his wife, Kathy, and Jim and his wife, Pam.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Kathleen McDermott Scholarship Fund, c/o Eleanor L. Coufos ’03, Columbia College Fund, Columbia Alumni Center, 622 W. 113th St., MC 4530, 3rd Fl., New York, NY 10025 or 212-851-7483; or to the Eleanor and Lou Gehrig MDA/ALS Center, Office of Development, 100 Haven Ave., Ste 29D, New York, NY 10032. A memorial service was held at St. Paul’s Chapel on November 5.
Tian Bu ’13, from Greenville, S.C., died on October 23. Known to friends as Tina, Bu studied psychology. She also was a talented writer and a gifted artist and musician; in a Spectator article, former floormate Jason Han ’12 recalled hearing her practice violin when he walked past her room. “I’d stop and appreciate it for a moment,” Han said. “That’s how I got to know Tina, moments in passing.”
Bu also was involved in Quest, a national leadership organization, and was active in a campus bible study group.
Alexis Tonti ’11 Arts