Derek has been a bright and positive presence in my life for the last 6 years. First, as my lecturer while I studied at BIMM and then as a colleague when I started to teach there. As his student, it struck me how unassuming and modest Derek was about his incredible talents. It always took me by surprise when he started to play piano or demonstrate his workflow on a DAW because he would never let on just how good he was. His passion and enthusiasm were highly infectious, and he could strike the perfect balance between being encouraging and setting challenging goals.
As a colleague, Derek’s compassion and kindness only became more visible to me. His support throughout the pandemic when we were teaching online was indispensable. His patience and empathy were infinite. Many times, he gave his time to sit with me on Zoom and brainstorm strategies to make online learning enjoyable for the students. I have been taken aback hearing from so many other lecturers in the last week that he did the same thing for them and more. I swear Derek must have had more hours in the day than the rest of us to be as generous with his precious time as he was.
One thing he said during this time stuck with me because it illustrates his abundant empathy: “Academia has been grand this year, but that’s not the whole picture. The students are missing connection and community”. We discussed ways we could engage students and encourage them to foster their community until we returned to onsite teaching.
Derek was so hard working and passionate, and his kindness and patience did not go unnoticed. He will continue to be a model for me as a teacher; I feel I can only aspire to reach the level of passion, enthusiasm, and empathy he brought to his job every day.
Aoibhe, Cole, and Cora, my heart breaks for you but I hope messages like this will constantly remind you how wonderful a man Derek was. His generosity was a beacon of positivity even in the most difficult of times.
The only “picture” I have of Derek to share is a screenshot from a lecturer training session we ran where we both emailed the night before saying we’d wing it as we had nothing prepared. We both turned up the next morning with full slides prepared (and Derek had invented an entire new teaching model for online activities that I still use today)! Moments like that really demonstrated his dedication and commitment. He is truly an inspiration to me and everyone he worked with.