The Randolph-Macon College community mourns the loss of one of its most cherished
members, Dr. Bruce M. Unger, who passed away peacefully at his home on January 31,
2008 after a lengthy illness.
"As teacher, scholar and mentor, he personified the very best attributes of the
title 'Professor.' He was steadfastly loyal to the college, skilled in his research
and dedicated above all, to the success of his students," said R-MC President Robert
Lindgren. "I got to know him best through his service to the College as our Faculty
Representative and as a member of my cabinet, for which I admired him greatly. Dr.
Unger will always be remembered for his devotion to Randolph-Macon and as a beloved
Dr. Unger joined the faculty of R-MC in 1968 as an instructor of political science
and was later named professor. He served as chair of the department from 1999 --
2002 and July 2003 -- February 2004. His areas of specialization include Soviet/American
relations; U.S./Soviet military balance; Indian Ocean/Persian Gulf area world affairs;
voting behavior; American foreign policy; defense policy; and international relations.
"Professor" was just one of the many hats Dr. Unger wore during his 40 years with
the College. He was always willing to serve in any capacity including interim dean
of the College, chair of the international relations program which he helped develop,
and arms control advisor to the United Methodist Board of Church and Society at
the United Nations. He also helped to develop the environmental studies major and
sat on many committees of the College. Dr. Unger worked especially hard to engage
and challenge students in the classroom and was just as diligent in helping them
secure internships and research projects.
Dr. Unger was elected by his peers for numerous years to serve as the faculty representative
on the President's Cabinet and was also the faculty liaison to the College's Board
of Trustees. In those roles, he effectively facilitated communication between the
faculty, administration and the Board.
Dr. Unger will also be remembered for his wit and humor. In an article written for
the R-MC faculty and staff newspaper in November 2002, he said, "I probably have
a reputation for being on the demanding end of the teaching spectrum, but of course
that is a function of perception."
Dr. Unger was a celebrated educator and received numerous awards. In 2002, he was
awarded the prestigious Charles J. Potts Professorship at Randolph-Macon College,
a position he held until the fall of 2007. He was especially proud of receiving
the student-voted Thomas Branch Award for Excellence in Teaching, which he won six
times, and the Samuel Nelson Gray Distinguished Professor Award which he received
in 1980. He was also awarded the prestigious Outstanding Faculty Award from the
Council of Higher Education of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Exemplary Teaching
Award from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist
Church, and the silver medalist for the Professor of the Year Award from the Council
for Advancement and Support for Higher Education.
Outside of the classroom, Dr. Unger was a recognized scholar throughout the world.
In 1992, he was a participant in the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
He also attended professional conferences in Moscow, Belarus, Japan and South Africa.
Locally, he was a regular speaker at schools, churches and civic groups on international
and environmental issues. Several of his articles were published nationally and
internationally in newspapers, magazines and electronic journals. In 1990, Dr. Unger
also served as an on-air analyst for WWBT- TV12 during the Washington summit meeting
between Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President George H. Bush. This
was the first meeting of these two world leaders after they declared an official
end to the cold war.
"Bruce contributed to Randolph-Macon College in countless ways," said Dr. William
Franz, R-MC physics professor and long-time friend. "He loved to travel with his
wife at his side. He would always return to delight us with stories about what he
learned, especially about the native cuisine. He was indeed a food connoisseur."
Dr. Unger was born in Brooklyn, New York and was a loyal fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
He earned his bachelor's degree in political science in 1964 from Queens College
and completed his master's and Ph.D. degrees from Tulane University in 1967 and
1973 respectively. He was awarded memberships in the national honorary societies
of Pi Sigma Alpha, Pi Gamma Mu, Tau Kappa Alpha, and Omicron Delta Kappa.
At Dr. Unger’s funeral, longtime friend and colleague Dr. Tom Porter gave a
heartfelt eulogy, sharing his insight into Dr. Unger’s life. The Randolph-Macon
College community also celebrated Dr. Unger’s life at a memorial service on Wednesday,
February 27 in Blackwell Auditorium to honor his memory and to acknowledge his many
contributions to the campus community during his nearly forty years at Randolph-Macon
College. At this service,
President Robert Lindgren shared some moving remarks about Dr. Unger on
behalf of the college. Several resolutions that Dr. Unger had received from the
R-MC Board of Trustees and the faculty were also read and a number of students shared
their experiences and fond memories of Dr. Unger, their professor and friend.
Dr. Unger is survived by his wife, Arlene, and two children, Erik and Ashley.
The Bruce M. Unger Award for Retiring Faculty
Dr. Unger had planned to retire from R-MC in 2008 after 40 years of service to the
college. In his honor, President Lindgren has announced the establishment of the
Bruce M. Unger Award for Retiring Faculty. The Unger Award will recognize
the contributions of retiring faculty with more than ten years of service to the
college. Recipients will be honored at Commencement, beginning May 31 of this year.
Gifts in support of the Bruce M. Unger Award Fund will be gratefully received and
can be directed to:
Office of Development
P.O. Box 5005
Ashland, VA 23005-5505
(Please note that the gift is for the "Unger Fund")