Remembering Alan Baharlou

Former geology chair died Monday night

Cassie Buchman, Editor in Chief

Throughout, and even after, his 25-year tenure at Eastern, many noticed retired geology chair Alan Baharlou’s commitment and involvement at the university.

Baharlou helped out at Commencement, was a part of the Annuitants Association, took part in the Faculty Fellows Program and happily volunteered for many committees.

Baharlou was even on a committee that first started to get technology in classrooms.

While chair, Baharlou would often have at least one or two committee meetings a day.

“Most people try to get out of committee work —he was trying to get on committee work,” Susan Kile, the office manager of the geology/geography department, said.

“He was passionate about his students,” Kile said. “He loved teaching. It kind of surprised us when he retired.”

Michael Cornebise, interim associate dean of the College of Sciences and Baharlou’s son-in-law, said “you couldn’t find anyone who loved Eastern more.”

Baharlou died Monday night as the result of a stroke while visiting Colorado.

Cornebise was hired by Baharlou 17 years ago, and met his future wife — Baharlou’s daughter — a year after he started.

“He loved working with first-generation students, loved diversity. He wanted to see more diversity on campus,” Cornebise said.

Retirement did not stop Baharlou from still being a fixture at the university and in the geology/geography department.

“He continued to do service even after he retired,” Cornebise said.

Diane Burns, department chair of geology and geography, said Baharlou greeted her on one of the first days she was on campus, even though he had retired since then.

“He just was always involved, always supportive,” she said. “He always had kind words to say to people.”

Baharlou brought Burns geraniums she still has on her office table when she became the chair of the department.

“He walked up three flight of stairs to get them here to me,” Burns said. “He didn’t take the elevator.”

Baharlou’s investment in people went beyond the office. Kile said he was one of the driving forces that helped her get her degree by making sure the office was staffed when she had class.

“Without his encouragement, I would not have done it,” she said.

Any time Kile had a problem, she said she could go to Baharlou, no matter what it was.

“He was a very caring person,” Kile said. “He made a lot of friends and a lot of people are going to miss him.”

Burns said Baharlou was an ambassador for Eastern on many levels.

“He was probably the best proponent EIU has ever had,” Burns said. “He really loved this school to no end (and) it showed in how he carried himself.”

Baharlou’s love for the university he worked at was rivaled only by his love for his family, including his four grandchildren and two children who he was devoted to.

“We would go to Colorado in the summer, he would hike with his grandkids,” Cornebise said.

A memory Cornebise said everyone in the family has are hikes at Rocky Mountain National Park in a place called Alberta Falls, where Baharlou and Cornebise began taking Cornebises’ son when he was three or four years old.

“Just last week (Baharlou) was hiking,” Cornebise said.

Cornebise said news of his father-in-law’s death has been devastating.

“I don’t know how to express it,” Cornebise said.  “If one of my kids had a sporting event or musical event he would always be there. We’re going to miss him most, I think, at these times.”