Remembering Adrianne Wadewitz: Scholar, Communicator, Teacher, Leader
I woke up this morning to an email from HASTAC Scholars Director Fiona Barnett asking if I would write a blog about the incredibly generous, helpful, always useful blogs by former HASTAC Scholar Adrianne Wadewitz. I said of course. Without hesitation. It's the least I can do for this amazing human being--even though I've met her only briefly. I feel like I know her well. Inevitably her posts on the HASTAC site are featured, as is one currently, on our homepage, because she has the incredible gift of not just pushing the boundaries of "the way we teach and learn" but communicating those ways in the most eloquent, humble, generous, useful way so that others can learn from her. She is a natural leader, an inspiration to us all. Just yesterday I had said she would be the ideal former HASTAC Scholar to be nominated to the Steering Committee of our organization. Adrianne Wadewitz exemplifies the early-career professional HASTAC Scholars is designed to mentor . . . because she represents the best of academe. Adrianne Wadewitz is a model of the future we all want for our profession, for our students, for our society.
It was only then reading through the rest of the morning's emails on my phone that I found the crushed earlier email from Fiona informing me that this amazing person, our wonderful Adrianne Wadewitz, had died in a climbing accident. I hadn't realized that Fiona had been asking me to perform the very sad and necessary task of writing a memorial.
It does not seem possible.
On behalf of our entire community, I would like to extend our deepest and most sincere sympathy to Adrianne's family and loved ones, to her friends, to her students and colleagues, to the HASTAC Scholars for whom she was such a central person and friend.
On behalf of our profession, as teachers and learners together, I express our deep and enduring sadness at thei inconceivable loss of Adrianne--such a sparkling human being, such a light, such a shining example of why we become teachers and why the best teachers are always lifelong learners.
She was thrilled to be the Mellon Digital Scholarship Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Digital Learning + Research at Occidental College this year. Per usual, she used this year of intense research to constantly communicate what she was doing. She blogged extensively on HASTAC and was a very proud former Scholar. At an early stage in her career, she had already had impact and reach: through wikipedia workshops, seminars, blogs, interviews and back-end support--often generously offered, without tribute or credit--to many, many events being hosted by others. She always was the one who pitched in. Do you know how rare a human quality that is? It should be what we exemplify first in our profession. Adrianne did.
In late March, she shared the news that she had accepted a job at Whittier College in LA. Her note said, "I am going to help them develop their digital liberal arts program. I'm extremely happy! I have a job I'm going to love in a city I adore. Life doesn't get better than this."
Fiona wrote in her email to me, "As a scholar and teacher, Adrianne connected wikipedia, pedagogy, feminism, participatory learning, knowledge and more in a very beautiful - and engaging - model which made room for others to jump in and start learning. She was the epitome of a HASTAC Scholar - working to allow others to see how we currently structure knowledge and access, and doing practical things to change it. I am reeling from this loss."
For those who have not followed her work before, her incredible, prolific blog on HASTAC can be found here.
A few of her recent entries:
- To be or not to be: Academic bios on Wikipedia
- Teaching with Wikipedia: the Why, What, and How
- Looking at the five pillars of Wikipedia as a feminist, part 2
- The struggle over gender on Wikipedia: the case of Chelsea Manning
And here is a remarkable video on Wikimedia about how to teach and learn by having students edit and add Wikipedia entries. Adrianne, we are still learning from you.
Below is the formal announcement extended to her colleagues and students at Occidental College. I repeat it here for those who, like me, are just learning of this terrible loss of a great, inspiring young teacher and scholar. The Occidental College flag will fly at half-staff on Monday in her memory.
HASTAC will have a moment of silence in her honor at our international conference in Lima, Peru from April 24-27. We will also dedicate an upcoming HASTAC collection and newsletter to a compilation of her blog posts, a virtual book for a woman whose presence in our lives has been real and tangible and whose memory will be lasting.
Please share your gratitude and condolences here. We'd like to have a page to share with her close friends and family, to show them our respect, admiration and deep sorrow at her loss.
Thank you, Dr. Wadewitz. Thank you.
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To the Occidental Community:
It is with great regret that I must announce the death of Adrianne Wadewitz, our Mellon Digital Scholarship Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Digital Learning + Research. An avid rock climber, Adrianne was critically injured in a fall during a March 29 Joshua Tree climb after the rock face cracked. She was airlifted to the Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, where she died yesterday. Adrianne joined the CDLR two years ago after completing her Ph.D. in English at Indiana University. Her dissertation explored the tensions between the discourse of sensibility and the emergence of the modern self in 18th-century children’s literature. In addition to her doctoral work, Adrianne was an educational consultant with the Wikimedia Foundation, a HASTAC scholar, and taught classes on virtual worlds, children’s literature, and the digital humanities. Recently, she had been blogging about the gender gap on Wikipedia. As a postdoctoral fellow, Adrianne helped to shape and deliver the 2012 Digital Scholarship Institute guide CDLR-sponsored Faculty Learning Communities, and taught CSP courses, most recently CSP 55, Through the Looking Glass: Perspective and Reflections on Childhood with Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychology Professor Heather Banis '82. Adrianne is survived by her parents, Betty M. and Nathan R. Wadewitz of Fort Wayne, IN; her significant other, Peter James of Los Angeles; and a host of colleagues here and across the country. A memorial service will be held in Herrick Chapel on Monday, April 14 at a time to be announced. The Occidental College flag will fly at half-staff on Monday in her memory. --Jim Tranquada Director of Communications