IST mourns the loss of David Hall, professor and former dean

David L. Hall, professor and former dean of the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), died on Dec. 26, 2015, in State College. He was 69.

A celebration of life service will be held at the Penn Stater Conference Center and Hotel from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 9, with a reception to follow.

Hall joined IST in 2001, where he served as associate dean for research and graduate programs. He was appointed dean of IST in January 2010, and concluded his deanship in July 2014. He remained an IST faculty member until his death.

Hall was founding director of Penn State's Center for Network-Centric Cognition and Information Fusion (NC2IF), chartered as a Penn State research center in 2008. NC2IF focuses on large-scale problems that provide opportunities for collaboration and encourages interdisciplinary research in computing systems and computer users. The center hosts the Extreme Events Laboratory and the Red Cell Analytics Lab at IST, and has been funded by many sources including the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

As dean, Hall was committed to the growth of online education and oversaw efforts to provide online options for all IST degree programs. Under his leadership, the college recruited a new chaired professor focused on big data and medical informatics, established IST’s annual Startup Week to encourage the next generation of innovators in technology and joined the intercollege entrepreneurship minor. Hall was instrumental in establishing the Center for Enterprise Architecture, and was one of the initial drivers to create the Center for Online Innovation in Learning (COIL), in collaboration with the College of Education and Penn State World Campus.

Prior to joining IST, Hall served as associate director and senior scientist at Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory (ARL), where he oversaw the 150-person Information and Network Systems Office.

Hall graduated from Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, before joining the U.S. Air Force. He received his bachelor's degree in math and physics from the University of Iowa, and his master’s degree and doctorate in astronomy from Penn State.

He is survived by his wife, Beth, his two daughters, Sonya and Cristin, and four grandchildren, Aaron, Allison, and twins Jonah and Sabrina.

David Hall, former dean and professor of IST

David Hall, former dean and professor of IST, with wife Beth.

Image: Penn State

Words from the community, in remembrance of David Hall:

"If you spent even a few minutes with Dave, you realized quickly that he had a brilliant mind -- but it was coupled with a quiet modesty and a gentle manner that immediately put others at ease. He was a man of integrity who valued good ideas and creative thinking, and he demonstrated that by his example to his colleagues and his students at IST. I often walked away from time with Dave and was struck later that — without noticing it at the time — I had learned something unexpected from him. He had a way of teaching without teaching, and it was a true gift.  He was a gentleman in every sense of the word, and I was privileged to know him and work with him."

Joe Atkinson, U.S. Advisory Entertainment, Media & Communications Leader, PwC; IST advisory board member

"One memory of Dave sticks out in particular. In the first semester of my freshman year, I was studying in the IST Building with a group of friends when Dave walked over and asked how my classes were going. I introduced him to my friends, gave him a hug and didn’t think anything of it. To me, he was Dean Hall, the family friend I had known for years. To my friends, he was Dean Hall, THE dean of IST! As soon as he walked away my friends thought it was so cool that they met the dean and that he was so personable and interested in a bunch of freshmen. A few days later I had heard that Dave had told the same story, but in his version he thought that it was so cool that he had just met some new students. This memory has always made me smile. He will always be remembered by his kind heart and energetic glow that he brought to the halls of IST."

—Victoria Bardusch, IST student

David Hall, former dean and professor of IST
Image: Heidi Lynne Photography

"I had the privilege of working with Dave for eight years. We worked well together from the very beginning. Dave had many gifts. One of his greatest gifts was that of gently pushing people (faculty, staff, students, friends) to be all that they could be. Dave was filled with love and kindness for all people. He adored his family and his dog, Molly. Dave was a wonderful storyteller. He was funny. We had so much fun working together. Dave was a great listener and problem solver. He was brilliant. More than all of these, though, Dave was one of my dearest friends. I consider him and his wife, Beth, to be part of my extended family. To lose anyone is hard. To lose a friend whom I have grown to love over the past eight years has been almost unbearable at times. I consider myself blessed to have known Dave. I will carry his memory with me always and will honor his life and our friendship by paying forward all that I have received from him."

—Karen Brewster, IST executive assistant, Office of the Dean

"Dave was an amazingly smart and talented leader. He was a friend and a strong voice of reason at Penn State in lots of very difficult conversations. His touch not only redefined IST, but his vision created the early spark for COIL at Penn State. Not many people know that he pushed us to look inward for investment in innovation, but he did. He was one of a kind — he could manage faculty and manage multi-million dollar programs. All of that is secondary to his life as a husband and father. You are missed."

—Cole Camplese, associate vice president for information technology and chief information officer at the University of Chicago; Former senior director for Teaching and Learning with Technology, Penn State

"Dave was wicked smart. Yet, as bright and a talented as he was, he seemed to think that we were all as smart as he was. Maybe he saw something in each of us that we didn’t see. He never talked down — he always talked us up to his level.

"Dave had a way of helping to remove obstacles out of the pathway to success. He did that for me and for so many others. He always found a way to get us what we needed — whether that was funding or a suitable place to do our work, or locating the right committee members, or figuring out a part of a way to present our research interests or findings, or how to place our work in relationship to others. He always found out what was getting in the way and knew a way around the problem.

"Dave regularly did life-changing things that made it possible for us to succeed."

—Nick Giacobe, IST research associate and lecturer

"The students of IST were truly fortunate to have such an approachable dean in David Hall. He always made the time to speak with me about the college's honors society, Gamma Tau Phi, during my time as president. He wanted the members to feel as proud of their academic achievements as he was of them. He would even wear his Gamma Tau Phi sweatshirt in the hallways to show his dedication to the club. His influence on our college and his willingness to support his students will forever resonate with me." 

Caitlin Doyle, 2012 IST alumna


"Dave was my M.S. thesis adviser years ago and has remained a mentor and friend ever since. Throughout my career he has always been there to discuss new ideas and connect me to key people in data fusion; but most importantly, he just believed in me and always encouraged me to believe in myself. Dave always made time, when I asked; but he also took an active interest and often reached out just to say 'hi' or 'let's get together and chat.' I don't think it was unique to me; Dave was just like that with people. He was truly a special person and will be missed by many." 

Julia Erdley, research and development engineer at the Applied Research Laboratory, Penn State

"Dave Hall was a modern Renaissance man effortlessly transitioning from data fusion to the latest movie to talking about enjoying his grand kids. Dave’s wisdom, humanity, and approachability made him a great mentor, colleague and friend. I will miss him and his standard, 'Hey guy, how's it going? Want to grab lunch?'"

—Pete Forster, IST associate dean for online and professional education; Academic program coordinator, Homeland Security MPS

"Dave Hall — scholar, gentleman, humble leader — it was a pleasure to work with Dave as he led IST to new heights. He made a huge difference in the college and was always a joy to interact with. He will be missed by his students, his college, Penn State and especially our advisory board."

Donald A. Halie, IST advisory board member; Board director, North Carolina Capital Management Trust; Board director, Micro Electronics Center of North Carolina


"I had the distinct pleasure of knowing Dave since his early days at IST. Even when he was in a role that typically did not involve undergraduate interaction, he went above and beyond, and was genuinely interested in getting to know the students, developing deep relationships, lasting for many years. Dave was a great leader, mentor, educator, father and grandfather, always reminding us why we work so hard — to enrich our lives with friends and family. His incredible daily presence will be missed, but we all have the opportunity to carry on the lessons he imparted on us, living up to the standards Dave set of a full and enriched life."

—Paul Horn, 2004 IST alumnus; IST Alumni Society president, 2012-2014

"I worked with Dave when I was an 'out-of-college engineer' at HRB, then at ARL, and kept in touch when he went to IST. My heart aches with the loss of a great mentor, thesis co-adviser, project manager, boss and friend. Dave had a way of making his students and employees feel so special and empowering us. He made such a difference in so many of our lives — in our careers — but he also cared about us personally."

Kathy Smith McClintic, former colleague

"Dave was a man of innate ideas, many of which were translated into scientific discovery and achievement. Frequently he would go to the whiteboard to visualize information for others to comprehend. He was really good at that. The sense of vibrancy of his thought, however, was overshadowed by exceptional insight in relating to other human beings and treating them with the utmost care and goodness. This is why his reign as dean of our college was so timely and useful. I worked closely with Dave in many venues and situations and his sensitivity to others was exceptional — unsurpassed actually. The sense of caring and love towards others will forever be remembered as his 'Hall-mark.' I will truly miss his presence, calming influence, perspicacious advice and dedicated service to Penn State."  

Michael McNeese, IST professor; Director of the Multidisciplinary Initiatives in Naturalistic Decision Systems Group

"Much like the character Ray Romano in ‘Everybody Loves Raymond,’ at Penn State, everyone loves Dave Hall. He was as comfortable discussing sunsets in Key West as he was matters of information technology. Dave was always the brightest person in the room, yet completely unassuming. Those of us affiliated with the College of IST owe Dave an unpayable debt of gratitude. He was our dean, and when we needed him most, he made significant sacrifices for our program. We’re all better people for having known and worked with Dave. I will miss him dearly."

—David Reese, chairman and chief executive officer, API Systems, Inc.; IST advisory board member


"Dave was like a safety zone for me — I could go to him with anything, any time, and he always had helpful advice to share. We had many great conversations, about everything from our shared love of dogs and whiskey to big-picture goals for the college and University. He was personally responsible for me moving into an administrative role, and working for him and with him was one of the most rewarding periods of my life."

Mary Beth Rosson, IST associate dean for graduate and undergraduate studies and professor

"Professor Hall encouraged me to keep working for myself when others were telling me to quit. You carry that kind of personal encouragement with you permanently and unforgettably. What a nice human being to have given so many people that gift; you just think about him and you instantly believe in yourself!"

—Joey Sommer, 2006 IST alumnus

"I loved Dave like my own father. He gave everyone time, had an open door and always wanted to know how we were. It speaks volumes for his style and faith in others. One of my favorite memories was a tradition that Dave supported and essentially instituted shortly after 'moving in' next to my office — and that was the idea of taking a moment in the afternoon for a short break that included a cup of tea, a biscuit and a discussion about work matters or even our weekend plans. At least once a week, we would gather to reflect on what we were working on, ask for input from others and strive for excellence in our actions. These 'short break' moments were refreshing, re-energizing and critical for us to press on to solve the issue at hand. I know we will continue on with these breaks but his presence will be greatly missed."

—Amy Stever, director, IST Education Strategy and Planning

"A great man. I wouldn't have gotten my Ph.D. without him. I thanked him with tears in my eyes after I had defended, and he simply winked, patted me on the back, and said, 'I bet on a good horse.'

"That was him in a nutshell — witty, understated, powerful, connected, caring, kind, wise, all crowned with a golden heart."

—C. Frank Igwe, 2008 IST doctoral alumnus; President, Moravia Health


Last Updated January 04, 2016