On October 8, 2018, GGC President Stas Preczewski announced that associate professor of world religions Dr. Chad Wilkes died.
“Interacting with Dr. Chad Wilkes was one of the greatest pleasures in working at GGC! He had a bright, inquisitive mind and enjoyed getting to know his students and colleagues. His indomitable sense of humor was ever present in his words and actions. It was a joy to be with him!” lecturer of religious studies Dr. Heidi Tauscher said.
“Chad’s presence will be sorely missed by all who knew him, especially by those of us who taught side-by-side with him. He will always be in our hearts and his love for students will forever guide our teaching.”
Dr. Wilkes was a member of GGC’s faculty since 2007. He received his doctorate in systematic theology from Southern Methodist University. His special interests included mythology and philosophy of religion, including epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics.
“As a friend and colleague, I remember Dr. Wilkes as kind, joyful, always considerate and genuinely concerned with the well-being of others,” Dr. Michael Stoltzfus, professor of religion, said.
“As a teacher, he was beloved by thousands of students during his 12 years at GGC. He had a profound influence on the intellectual and spiritual development of all who knew him. I am so grateful for his life, humor, wisdom, and compassion. Rest in peace, my friend.”
Dr. Wilkes taught over 100 sections of world religions at GGC and helped to develop the religious studies minor. He was the faculty advisor for the Active Minds student organization and an active member of both the Texts and Courses Society and the Jung society.
“He was on leave earlier in the semester due to illness. Today our hearts are heavy with loss,” Dean of Liberal Arts Laurel Holland said.
“Chad was brilliant, kind, compassionate, and funny. So many students have expressed that he was their favorite professor. And he remained in contact with former students to supporttheir efforts to go to graduate school or begin a career.”
“Chad went above and beyond what was required of him because teaching was his passion. Chad’s absence has created an empty place in the School of Liberal Arts, and we are dedicated to filling that void with his spirit of kindness. We are waiting to hear from his family about plans for a memorial service,” Dr. Holland said.
“In cases of sudden death like his, we remember that we cannot take life for granted,” Dr. Andrea Green, assistant professor of religious studies, said. “We forget to say, ‘thank you,’ or ‘I appreciate you,’ or ‘hey, dude, you’re alright!'”
“I am remembering how I could sit in my A-office in the relatively quiet summers and hear his voice winding down the still hallways. I cannot imagine GGC without Dr. Wilkes, and I do not imagine that GGC will ever be without Dr. Wilkes. We will still hear his voice, experience his humor, remember his dumb jokes like ‘Whuut’s up,’ and feel his love for all of us for many years to come,” Dr. Green said.
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) sent an email inviting students in need of grief counseling to schedule an appointment to speak with someone.
During his sophomore year, information technology major and junior David Ho took world religions with Dr. Wilkes.
“He was always very enthusiastic and passionate when it came to his lectures in religion. It made it fun and engaging every class we had. He was also always good humored and energetic,” Ho said. “I feel as though he was one of the few professors who cares for his students.”
Biochemistry major Mariam Ahmed shared the sentiment.
“I most admired his skill to teach us about the religions of the world with an unbiased approach, which is hard for many people. Because of Dr.Wilkes, I can tell other students and peers about the fascinating stories and history of religions,” Ahmed said.
“Dr. Wilkes will be greatly missed by his students. May he rest in peace.”