Ginny Novak: In Memoriam
Ginny Novak, former manager of student affairs who worked in engineering for nearly five decades, passed away on October 26, 2021 after a long illness. Ginny was born in Providence and graduated from Hope High School. After graduation, she took a job as an administrative assistant at Brown University. This was the start of a 47-year career in the Division of Engineering, where she retired in 2006 as manager of student affairs.
“Ginny and I started at Brown the same week in 1959,” said Professor Emeritus Barrett Hazeltine. “The dominant recollection is how supportive she was. She offered to a succession of students, graduate and undergraduate, encouragement and comfort. She did the same for a remarkably large number of faculty members. Her ability to recognize what was hurting a person was remarkable. So was her ability to find just the right thing to say. She made many lives better.”
“Ginny had already been here in engineering when I was a graduate student in the late 1960’s,” said Professor Harvey Silverman. “By the time I became dean in 1991, she did, essentially either by herself or with one assistant, all the work done today by at least four people. Needless to say, her office was always busy, sometimes a bit messy, but she was always a wonderful help and we somehow got all the work done, even though we were still about the same size as today.”
Ginny was known for taking and sharing photos and her devoted work ethic.
“I have many good memories of working with Ginny in her capacity as Manager of Student Affairs of the Division of Engineering,” said Professor Emeritus Joe Calo. “Her work ethic and prodigious knowledge of all the students who came to her office for help over many, many years, as well as her detailed knowledge of the history of Brown Engineering in general (to which she devoted her entire career), made my work much more enjoyable and effective. Ginny worked very hard and diligently on the calendar that was put together for the Engineering Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary of Brown Engineering). In my opinion, her long memory of the history of Brown Engineering was seminal in making it an extraordinary document. I, for one, will always remember her most fondly, and I am sure there are many others who will as well.”
In the days before computers, Ginny was a human CAB.brown.edu. She knew every class, who was teaching it, what time it met, what rooms were available, and what were the requirements for each degree.
“My image of Ginny is her sitting in her office in front of a huge sheet of paper on her desk that held all of the class information,” said Professor Kenny Breuer. “In the days before computers, Ginny was a human CAB.brown.edu. She knew every class, who was teaching it, what time it met, what rooms were available, and what were the requirements for each degree. On top of that, she was always cheerful and helpful.”
“Ginny was a great colleague and friend to generations of students and faculty,” said Professor Emeritus Clyde Briant. “Ginny welcomed countless students into Engineering and made them feel at home through their four years at Brown. I thoroughly enjoyed working with her. She will be missed by many people.”
“Ginny was truly an institution in engineering for many years,” added Professor Eric Suuberg. “She will be remembered fondly.”
She is survived by her husband of 52 years, Kent, and her children, Julie and Kent.