Head of UMaine Honors College dies unexpectedly

Posted July 30, 2012, at 6:49 p.m.
Last modified July 30, 2012, at 7:11 p.m.
Charlie Slavin in 2010.
Charlie Slavin in 2010. Buy Photo

ORONO, Maine — Charles Slavin, the man at the helm of the University of Maine’s honors program for the past 15 years, died unexpectedly but peacefully at his home on Monday morning, according to the university.

The 58-year-old mathematician was a jack of many trades who affected the lives of many who passed through the honors program over the years, according to Honors College graduate and state Rep. Emily Cain, D-Orono.

“At heart, he was a student of philosophy and history” who sought to understand society, arts and sports, not just numbers.

“Charlie was really my first friend at the University of Maine,” Cain said.

Cain joined the honors program at UMaine in 1998, largely because of Slavin’s support and encouragement to do so, she said. She graduated from the program in 2002, the same year Slavin successfully transitioned the program into an Honors College.

“Charlie took the work he did here very seriously and very personally,” Cain said.

“Charlie Slavin was one of our most highly regarded colleagues, campus leaders and dear friends,” said UMaine President Paul Ferguson. “All of us who knew Charlie were enriched by his love of life, his love of family and — for us in the academy — his love of scholarship. Although we will deeply miss our daily interactions with him, his presence and impact will be felt for decades to come.”

Susan Hunter, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, said Slavin was a beloved figure on campus.

“He was absolutely dedicated to the mission of the University of Maine and the Honors College,” Hunter said. “He will be sorely missed by his students and his colleagues.”

“His legacy is the thousands of student lives he’s changed over the years, including mine,” Cain said.

Cain now works in the Honors College as the coordinator of advancement.

Slavin’s advocacy and passion for the program were significant contributors to her decision to help the college in her own way, she said.

Cain said Slavin seldom dressed in traditional university professor fashion.

“I think probably four times a year, Charlie wore a tie,” Cain said with a chuckle, “and usually because someone made him.”

Cain said she will miss his “silly side,” which always came out when he was with his family or teaching his youngest son, Sam, to play hockey.

Slavin received a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in mathematics from Princeton University in 1976 and a master’s and doctorate in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin in 1980 and 1984, respectively.

Slavin is survived by his wife, Nancy Hall, an associate professor of communication sciences and disorders, and his children.

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