“I do not believe there is any singular thing as “teaching,” that there is only “learning,” an interaction between or among people. I cannot recall ever bringing anything to an educational interaction equal to or more than what I gained from that experience.”
~Dr. Conrad Toepfer III
On April 20, 2020 we lost a great educator, friend and mentor when Conrad “Connie” Toepfer III, EdM ’56, EdD ’62, passed away. Soon after Conrad’s passing, members of the Graduate School of Education (GSE) Alumni Association board decided to host a virtual celebration of life event as a way to bring together family, friends and alumni and provide a forum to talk and reminisce about Conrad’s uplifting approach, mentorship and leadership. For over an hour and a half 50 friends, colleagues, family and alumni from all over the country signed onto a Zoom call and one-by-one people shared touching stories about the impact Conrad had on their lives – it was truly a remarkable tribute filled with a lot of wonderful memories, laughter and tears.
As Judith Brough, EdD ’83, recently shared:
Conrad Toepfer’s picture ought to be included in the dictionary definition of mentorship. He delighted in the successes of his students, encouraging us, challenging us, and providing us with opportunities to spread our wings. He invited us to research, give professional presentations, and write with him, and, more often than not, gave us first billing for our collaborative efforts. Great mentors don’t limit their support and advocacy for their time together in school. They follow their students and continue to advocate for and support their mentees. After our graduation from UB, Conrad kept in close contact with us, writing countless letters of recommendation, and even loudly advocating for recognition of OUR achievements rather than his own. Conrad’s students learned from him during and after their UB time together. But he insisted that he learned just as much from us as we did from him. In a letter he sent to me on May 3, 2011, 28 years after my graduation, Conrad wrote: "I believe the nature of mentoring, guidance, or whatever we call it, can occur when people of like concern, searching for truth, come together. The results can become a shared, common quest.”
To continue to remember and honor the many accomplishments and impact Conrad had not only in education, but on his students, several friends and alumni have come together to establish the Dr. Conrad F. Toepfer III Mentorship Award, which will be awarded to a current or former faculty member in GSE that not only defines what it means to be a mentor, but also goes above and beyond for their students, just as Conrad did. The goal of this campaign is to raise $25,000 so that this award will be endowed and live on in perpetuity in Conrad’s name. Please join us not only with your support, but also in sharing this campaign with others who knew Conrad and, like us, would like to keep his memory alive through this award.
*If this gift intention is to support an endowment fund, unless otherwise restricted by the gift instrument pursuant to paragraph (b) of Section 553 of the Not-for-Profit Corporation Law, the institution may expend so much of the endowment fund as it deems prudent after considering the factors set forth in paragraph (a) of Section 553 of the Not-for-Profit Corporation Law.