Professor Joseph V. Ciuryla of Suffolk’s chemistry department may not have been a tenured professor, but dedicated himself to educating during his 30 years at the university.
“He went above and beyond and always contributed to the department,” said Dr. Martha Richmond, head of the chemistry and biochemistry department. “I have rarely seen someone care as much about the students he taught as he did”
Richmond said Ciuryla was “one of those unsung heroes,” someone the department considered more than just an adjunct professor.
Ciuryla died Saturday, May 3, according to a notice in The Providence Journal. He was 69.
Suffolk University has not made an official statement on Ciuryla’s death, but his students were notified by email last week.
Although he had been a chemistry professor at Suffolk for the past 30 years, he has been teaching chemistry for the past 48 and was beloved by many students.
“He had almost perfect student evaluations,” said Richmond. “He went out of his way to be helpful.”
While at Suffolk, Ciuryla taught the general chemistry lectures and labs for non-majors, as well as summer sessions.
“He really encouraged students,” Richmond said, “he would listen to what their anxieties were and support them and for a lot of students, that made a huge difference.”
One of his former students remarked anonymously online, “He is the nicest man you will ever meet here at Suffolk … you will end up loving chemistry because of his personality. He is always willing to help you with any problem, no matter how long it takes. I wish he taught more courses.”
Richmond remarked on not only on how Ciuryla dedicated himself to each and every one of his students, but how his students deeply admired him. Suffolk’s Center for Teaching and Scholarly Excellence sponsors a “Thank a Professor” program in which students can send letters to professors whose classes they particularly enjoyed or learned a great deal from.
“He was adored by students” said Richmond as she spoke about the consistent outpouring of “thank you” letters Ciuryla received from his students.
Along with being dearly missed by his colleagues in the department, there are many students who are also mourning the professor. After hearing of Ciuryla’s death, chemistry department work study student and biology major Stella Athanasopoulos said, “I can’t process that … I’m so sad about this … he was always a kind person, and always went out of his way to help his students. He displayed dedication and enthusiasm during his lectures, and everyone loved him for that.”
Another student and lab assistant, Cindy Tran, also offered her condolences.
“Professor Ciuryla was an amazing person both inside and outside the chemistry lab,” she said. “His great contributions and generous spirit will be deeply missed by both students and faculty.”
Along with being a dedicated and passionate professor in the classroom, Ciuryla, a Rhode Island native, commuted from his home in Richmond to Boston almost every day for the past 30 years. This put a particular strain on him as he developed several health issues over the past few years, although Richmond said he never complained.
“I will miss him a great deal,” said Richmond. “It is huge loss for a lot of us … the students won’t have the same experience”