Professor Emeritus Richard Vidale Mourned

Professor Emeritus Richard Francis Vidale (ECE), a long-time faculty member, died on May 17 at the age of 83.

Vidale was a professor of systems and computer engineering at BU for 37 years, and was the first chair of the Electrical, Computer and Systems Engineering Department (as it was formerly known) from 1970 to 1981, and chair of the Systems Department for 10 years. He retired as an emeritus professor in 2001. At his retirement, former students came from across the country to thank him for his teaching and mentoring.

“He was very proud, yet in a humble way, of the opportunity to impact the College of Engineering and to insure that we addressed the role of systems engineering in EE and CE in particular,” said Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen. “He was one of the very early faculty that sparked us moving from a small narrow College of Engineering into the main stream.”

“He was a dedicated teacher, always available to students and a faithful EK100 advisor,” said Professor W. Clem Karl, chair of the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department. “As might be expected of a former department chair, Dick was an energetic force providing direction and vision in planning and faculty search.”

Vidale’s research focused on software requirements and performance analysis, but he was also a mainstay in teaching computer software courses, such as software systems design and software performance engineering.

Vidale was an active participant in several volunteer activities, including the Wellesley Education Foundation and Partakers, Inc. (a prison outreach program of the First Parish Church in Weston). He was also involved in the First Parish Church as a member of its standing committee and its monthly covenant group.

“He hired me and was a mentor and a guide to me and the seven full-time faculty and one adjunct of the department when he was chair,” says Professor Mark Horenstein (ECE). “He was a dedicated servant of the department and college, and helped guide the department into what it is today and was the one who brought systems engineering to BU.

“Along with his mentorship he was also a great friend and a caring individual,” adds Horenstein. “We actually have the same birthday and it was always a race to see who would get the other a birthday note first, but Dick always won.”

The celebration of his life will be held on June 29 at 2 p.m. at the First Parish Unitarian Church in Weston, Mass.