Steve Lapointe

Steven Lapointe, a professor who specialized in the study of words, particularly in the study of phrases and sentences, had been on campus since 1991. He passed away in February of 1999 at 47 years of age.

Lapointe, a professor who specialized in the study of words, particularly in the study of phrases and sentences, had been on campus since 1991, after having served as a tenured professor at Wayne State University in Detroit.

When he arrived on campus, Lapointe immediately set to work on efforts to emphasize the role of linguistics within the curriculum and the research contributions made through the scientific study of language, said Lenora Timm, also a linguistics professor.

"Steven Lapointe was a leader who helped us articulate a truly collaborative vision for the future of the linguistics program," said Mary Schleppegrell, director of the campus's English as a Second Language program. "He was a person of tremendous personal integrity who acted in accordance with principles of honesty and forthrightness to achieve the goals he set. We will miss him very much."

During the past few years, Lapointe directed a revamping of the linguistics master's degree program, a time-consuming process that involved consulting with faculty and drafting new course proposals. Lapointe also worked to develop a strategic plan for the future of linguistics at UC Davis.

A clear sense of the mission of linguistics on campus characterized Lapointe's leadership style, said Will Benware, acting director of linguistics. "He led by consensus, always taking into consideration the opinions of his colleagues. He was willing to forego his own plans when he saw that benefits to the program would be better served by adopting another course of action.

"He was especially generous with his time in making sure that the best interests of the whole program were served. And he carefully kept track of the service done by members of the program and sent out at the end of every year to each faculty member a record of service done, a unique and much-appreciated service itself."

"He was the driving force behind the development of linguistics on this campus. We'll surely miss him both as a leader and as a friend," said Steven M. Sheffrin, dean of the Division of Social Sciences.

Outside his program area, Lapointe worked on the campus's Mind Sciences Committee. He served as an editor on the journal Cognition and Linguistic Analysis.

Lapointe considered music important to his life; he sang in the campus's Early Music Ensemble and the University Chamber Singers.

He received his Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Massachusetts in 1980 and earned a bachelor of science degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1974.

An award has been established in his memory for Linguistics graduate students.