“I have had an ideal career at Pace, being paid to do what I love – to think, to write, to share ideas with students and colleagues.” These are the words of Dr. Joseph Bergin, Professor of Computer Science, who retired at the end of the summer after 22 years at Pace. Professor Bergin earned the reputation as a “tough but fair” faculty member who challenged students to their limits and then some.
Bergin joined the School of Computer Science and Information Systems (CSIS) faculty in 1989 as a full professor after teaching at several other academic institutions since earning his PhD in mathematics from Michigan State University. Dissatisfied with his previous position, he was looking for a school that would provide him with “an opportunity to make a difference.” It soon become obvious that Professor Bergin and CSIS were a good fit and that he had finally found his professional home.
He thoroughly enjoyed his years at Pace for numerous reasons. As a faculty member based primarily in New York City, he loved the University because of the rich diversity of its students and its vibrant location in lower Manhattan. He worked for “two wonderful deans” – Dean Susan Merritt and Interim Dean Constance Knapp – and said that Dr. Carol Wolf was “the best chairperson I’ve ever had.”
In addition to teaching, Professor Bergin pursued research in programming languages, particularly object-oriented languages, patterns, and Extreme Programming and was also interested in pedagogy. Over the years, he published numerous papers, conducted many workshops at professional conferences and received awards for scholarship and service including the Neil Harrison Shepherding Award at EuroPLoP (European Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs) 2001 for his skilled mentoring.
He was also well-known for writing a series of books using Karel, an educational programming language designed to introduce students to the basic skills and concepts of programming. Karel++: A Gentle Introduction to the Art of Object-Oriented Programming was his first publication on which he collaborated with Richard Pattis of Stanford. Karel++ was followed by Karel J. Robot which features object-oriented programming in Java and, most recently, by Monty Karel which focuses on the use of the dynamic programming language, Phython.
Bergin “loved” being part of the start-up team for the innovative Doctor of Professional Studies in Computing created by former Dean Susan Merritt and led by Professor Fred Grossman, program chair. The part-time doctoral program, a combination of monthly weekend on site classes and online study in-between, was developed for seasoned computing professionals who cannot commit to full-time study.
Eli Tilevich (BA/CS ’97), a former student of Professor Bergin’s and now an assistant professor in the computer science department at Virginia Tech, attributes much of his success to Bergin’s teaching and mentoring. In addition, he lauds his former professor as an influential role model who gave him the confidence to pursue an academic career: “Back then, I had several career options in front of me, and I had a lot of doubts whether pursuing a Ph.D. was right for me. Dr. Bergin gave me the confidence to pursue graduate study by pointing out that I had the ability and the work ethic necessary for an academic career. In addition, Dr. Bergin actively helped me with the graduate school application process by assisting me in identifying the universities with good research programs in my areas of interest and by writing letters of recommendation.”
Dean Knapp once shared an office with Bergin for nearly 12 of the 22 years he was at Pace. On reflection, she said “When he showed up with a Mac, I knew it was a perfect match. Joe taught me the concepts behind object-oriented programming when I thought I might conduct dissertation research in that area and I found him to be a patient teacher who never seemed to tire of answering my questions; I imagine that he wasn’t any different with students. I love his wry sense of humor, his ability to work hard, and to make you work hard, too, and his genuine caring. I was very lucky to have had the opportunity to know this master teacher and scholar, and I will miss his presence on campus.”
As for retirement and the future, Professor Bergin has a lot to keep him busy. He will continue to pursue and enjoy the many non-academic interests he has cultivated over the years. In addition to being an avid hiker and bicyclist, he enjoys the practice of Tai Chi, which, he says, “always makes me feel better.” He has done a great deal of cooking over the years, a pursuit he continues to enjoy. He’s been told that his quiche is “among the best” and has finally learned to make an apple pie “worth eating.” He also hopes to recover his “eye” for photography, an avocation that he hasn’t had much time for in recent years. His favorite subject is “found objects,” often quite small, as well as the interesting and unusual.
Travel is also in his plans. He and his wife, Linda, hope to go to Paris in the spring and to China and Tibet next summer to further their Tai Chi practice.
Professor Bergin is not severing ties to the academic community by any means. He will continue to maintain his Pace Web site which remains a resource for educators. He also plans to return to the DPS program in the near future on a part-time basis.
We wish Professor Bergin well in retirement and welcome him back, albeit in a greatly reduced capacity.