Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,
I am writing to share sad news. Associate Professor of Computer Science Alistair Campbell, a member of the faculty for more than two decades, died on Saturday, Oct. 22, after battling an aggressive cancer.
Alistair came to Hamilton in 1999, the same year he earned his Ph.D. in computer science from the University at Buffalo, where he also received recognition for his teaching. He had previously received a master’s degree from Buffalo and a bachelor’s degree from Colgate. At Hamilton, he taught introductory computer science courses, data structures, principles of programming languages, compilers, and artificial intelligence, among other topics.
A department colleague described Alistair as the “heart and soul of our programming-intensive curriculum,” who was “dedicated to service to the college, the discipline, and the department.” This included teaching an enormous number of students – often well beyond the minimum number of hours – and serving on the Honor Court and as faculty secretary. Nationally, he was on the program committee for his professional organization’s national symposium on computer science education and was a long-time reader, rising to chief reader, for the College Board’s AP computer science exam. He was also awarded fellowships to conduct research with the Air Force Research Lab in Rome, N.Y.
Alistair’s students spoke of courses that were “demanding and requiring significant investments of time,” and of a professor who was “fair, understanding, and good-humored.” “[He] anchors our department,” his colleague said, “with consistently strong teaching that demands that students master material and demonstrate that mastery using many forms of evaluation including warmups, quizzes, laboratories, projects, exams, and presentations.”
Last spring, Alistair was elected to the Committee on Academic Policy (CAP), a role he had always hoped to serve in at the College. When we spoke this summer, Alistair was focused on what was still an unknown medical diagnosis. I recall his insistence that he would only take a one-year leave from his elected duties on CAP and his intention and eagerness to fulfill his service upon return. His commitment to the College was significant.
Alistair took great pride in serving as an advisor to a large number of students and was known for his strong commitment to teaching and to the College. He had a deep love of music, brewing beer, cycling, scouting, and other outdoor activities. He was devoted to his church, community, students, and family. All of us are diminished by the loss of such a caring and devoted teacher, husband, father, and community member, particularly someone who so deeply enriched the lives of those who knew him well. Our thoughts are most especially with his family at this difficult time.
Please know that a variety of campus resources are available to support the community during this difficult time. Students may contact the Dean of Students, Counseling Center (315-859-4340), or the Chaplaincy. In addition to the Chaplain, faculty and staff may also seek help through our Employee Assistance Program.
I want to express my deep sympathy to Alistair’s family, including his wife, Colleen, and their children, Aubrey ’26 and Evelyn. I will share details of the memorial service in the coming days. Please join me in expressing gratitude for Alistair’s many contributions to the College over the last 23 years.