Wednesday, January 19, 2022

MSU professor dies, honored by colleagues as field pioneer

October 19, 2009


In addition to his accomplishments in the field of education, those who knew Jere Brophy remember him for his devotion to others and his role as a caring father and longtime friend.

Brophy, a University Distinguished Professor of teacher education and educational psychology, died Thursday from an apparent heart attack. He was 69 years old.

Brophy’s research focused on teaching and discovering how teachers could be more effective in the classroom.

Described by his colleagues as a leader in the field and someone who won every award in the profession, Jere Brophy was a “trailblazer” who made advances in teaching research.

Brophy’s daughter Cheri Speier, an MSU professor in the College of Business, and his son Joe Brophy, a Grand Rapids resident, said their dad had many interests outside of his work.

Jere Brophy’s eclectic musical interests prompted memories in both Speier and Joe Brophy of their father sitting for hours listening to music, one of his passions.

“It wasn’t just that there was a band or two that he liked,” Joe Brophy said. “He researched, he got Rolling Stone to learn about all of these diverse musical genres.”

Jere Brophy always put his students first, Speier said.

“I haven’t ever seen anybody be able to manage the number of dissertations, the number of students and to turn around very complex and sophisticated guidance and feedback … to ensure the students never were slowing down because of him,” she said.

Aroutis Foster, one of Jere Brophy’s former graduate students, said the professor became
his mentor.

“He never looked down at anybody at all, even though he was a giant in the field,” Foster said. “I was happy I met him … I am a better person just for meeting Jere.”

Richard Prawat, a chair in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education, called Jere Brophy a friend for 30 years.

“Jere was unchanging in terms of not just his way of wearing his hair and his dress … (but also) his values, his commitment to scholarship,” Prawat said.

A warm and down-to-earth person, Jere Brophy also was admirable in his personal life, Prawat said.

Prawat called Jere Brophy’s 46-year marriage to his wife, Arlene, a “storybook romance.”

“It was so much love and respect there,” Prawat said. “It’s part of his being grounded, not only in his research, but also in his personal life.”

Arlene and Jere Brophy began dating before they were 18 years old, Speier said.

“They intentionally broke up for six weeks to make sure it was the real thing, and at the end of the six weeks, they were desperate to get back with each other,” she said.

That deep love lasted throughout the pair’s marriage, Speier said.

“As my dad would go to work, my mom would always be standing at the window waving at him,” she said.

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Giving to others is a legacy Jere Brophy will leave behind, Speier said.

“We all have so much to give … maybe our professional talents, maybe our compassion,” she said. “He helped people find those ways so easily and without seemingly any effort.”


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