Remembering Florence Sullivan

With great sadness the College of Education community is mourning the loss of Professor Florence Sullivan, who passed away on June 1. Florence’s passion for justice and equity in her work with students, her recent tenure as TECS department chair, and her research was unshakable. She truly walked her talk concerning racism and inequality. She made “good trouble” in the words of civil rights icon John Lewis.

Florence spent her entire career in academia at UMass-Amherst, joining us in 2005. She was a formidable scholar who used a social justice lens to examine collaborative learning with computational media including robotics, computer programming, and modeling. She studied student learning processes with computational media including collaborative learning, collaborative creativity, creative problem solving, and computational thinking. She advanced our understanding of microgenetic analysis for investigation of collaboration around computational media, taking on specific challenges such as the learning opportunities for marginalized youth. She was the author of Creativity, Technology, and Learning: Theory for Classroom Practice, published by Routledge. Florence served as PI on a National Robotics Initiative grant focused on developing and engaging in research of a co-robotics curriculum for middle school aged children. She was also Co-PI on a National Science Foundation CSforAll grant that focused on teacher co-design of CT-integrated curriculum at the elementary level.  Florence collaborated closely in this work with our neighbors in Holyoke and Springfield. Throughout all her scholarship, teaching, and leadership Florence’s passion for making the world a better place shone through.

As is the case when any member of our community is lost, we are bound to feel a profound sense of concern, and reactions are felt in a variety of ways. If you or someone you know needs additional support, please do not hesitate to contact the UMass Center for Counseling and Psychological Health at (413) 545-2337 (for students); or the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) at (413) 545-0350 (for employee assistance).

We extend our deepest condolences to Florence’s family and friends.