Chester R. Titus
September 30, 1921–December 17, 2017
Resident life founder was strong advocate for students
Chester Titus, who founded UVA’s resident life program and whose legacy includes the modern selection process for—and prestige of—Lawn rooms, died Dec. 17, 2017. He was 96.
He arrived in Charlottesville in 1958 from the University of New Hampshire, his alma mater, where he served as director of housing.
In his time at UVA, Titus served as housing director, associate dean of student affairs and associate professor of education, as well as the longtime director of the Colonnade Club.
He received the Algernon S. Sullivan Award in 1987 for his contributions, which have had an enduring impact. In 1983, he received the Z Society's highest and rarest award: the Pale Z. He was also recognized by the 7 Society and the Society of Purple Shadows for his "profound" service to the University.
Lawn residents have him to thank for the honor associated with the address.
Before Titus, “It was considered a good thing to live on the Lawn, but it wasn’t a really big good thing,” says UVA historian Sandy Gilliam (Col ’55).
But Titus converted each room to a single and implemented a more rigorous selection process. In 1983, Titus told the University Journal that he was “concerned that they select good people, ‘good’ meaning that they have participated in student life and made a contribution not solely academic.”
He also created the resident staff program, where he emphasized student self-governance.
“He was such a great listener … and a reassuring, calming presence,” says Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs and Executive Director of Housing and Resident Life Gay Perez (Col ’87, Educ ’92), who served under Titus as a student. “He really trusted the students with the ability to look at a situation and either solve the problem or make a decision.”
Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer Pat Lampkin (Educ ’86) worked under Titus beginning in 1979 and saw what Perez experienced.
“He was a very strong advocate for students,” she says. “He was committed to students learning, and learning to take risks.”
That outlook toward students has lived on. “We really believe in our students. I would say that is part of his lasting legacy,” Perez says of the resident staff program.
“He … created the atmosphere where students and administration really work together as colleagues. That sets us apart from our peer institutions.”
His funeral, Gilliam says, was attended by many former head resident assistants.
“I think that’s a measure of the esteem in which he was held.”
Survivors include four sons, including John B. Titus (Col ’69, Educ ’72 L/M) and Peter G. Titus (Col ’74); eight grandchildren, including Brian Titus (Col ’95, Grad ’03, Res ’15); and three great-grandchildren.
C. Knight Aldrich of Charlottesville died Nov. 3, 2017. Dr. Aldrich graduated from Wesleyan University in 1935 and from Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago in 1940. After interning at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital, he was a resident in psychiatry at Ellis Island and later a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service. After World War II, he served on the faculty of the medical schools at the universities of Wisconsin and Minnesota, and in 1955 he became chairman of the newly formed Department of Psychiatry at the University of Chicago School of Medicine. His interest in short-term solutions to mental health problems began when he worked with college students, continued as he investigated and taught ways in which general physicians can treat mental health problems and culminated in a commitment to community psychiatry. This commitment took him first to an effort to improve the care of psychiatric patients living in Newark, New Jersey, and later to the Region X Community Mental Health Center in Charlottesville, where he also served as professor of psychiatry and of family medicine at the UVA School of Medicine. He was the author of many articles and several books, most about aspects of psychiatry and one based on his great-grandfather’s Civil War letters. In an unexpectedly long retirement, he traveled widely and pursued an interest in history—of psychiatry, of his family and of the Civil War. His unwavering commitment to understanding mental illness and improving mental health care was a model for colleagues and students. He was known for his intelligence, enthusiasm for life and delight in pursuing his boundless curiosity. Survivors include a daughter; a son, Robert Aldrich (Law ’77); eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
William H. Fishback Jr. of Charlottesville died Dec. 15, 2017. After graduating from Washington and Lee University in 1956, where he later served 10 years on the board of trustees, he was a writer and editor at the Times-Dispatch of Richmond, Virginia. In 1966, he embarked on a career in higher education at the University, where he served under four presidents over a period of more than 40 years. In addition to working with the media as the University’s spokesman and overseeing University relations activities, eventually as an associate vice president, he also taught newswriting courses in the English department to hundreds of students over the years and was an informal adviser to student journalists at the Cavalier Daily and the University Journal. After retiring in 1995 as special adviser to President John T. Casteen III, he continued to teach. Reflecting his love of Virginia politics, Mr. Fishback was instrumental in the creation of both the Center for Politics and the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership. In recognition of his significant service and contributions to the University, he received the Raven Society’s Raven Award in 2004. He was a member of the board of trustees of the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation, which oversees the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and its several schools. He was active throughout the community and served on the boards of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Charlottesville Symphony at UVA, the Tuesday Evening Concert Series and Madison House. Survivors include his wife, Sara; a brother; three children; and four grandchildren.
John D. Forbes of Charlottesville died Jan. 19, 2018. He served in the U.S. Army. He attended the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University, and he earned a doctorate from Harvard University. He served as curator for paintings at the San Francisco World’s Fair. Before arriving at the Darden School of Business as its first professor, he taught at what is now the University of Missouri—Kansas City, Bennington College and Wabash College. He wrote biographies and murder mysteries and was the editor of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians for five years. He was a member of the society and served as its president in 1962-1963. He also received commendations from the French and Italian governments. After retirement, he taught a course on art and architectural history in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies and was the inspiration for the John D. Forbes Seminar for Career-Focused Writing and Communications. Survivors include his wife, Mary Elizabeth; three children; and four grandchildren.