Alfred Joseph, 56, associate professor of social work and family studies at Miami University, died April 1.
William Gracie, retired professor of English who spoke at Joseph’s funeral, said Joseph was always focused on his students.
“I think what always impressed me about him is that he was always thinking about them first,” Gracie said. “I never heard him talk about his scholarship or his interest in being promoted to full professor; it was always, ‘what can I do for students to open their minds to the variety of societies and cultures that are out there?'”
Joseph’s goal, according to Gracie, was to create open-minded students.
“That interest in putting students’ learning, students’ expansion and students’ understanding of the variety of cultures and races and populations that are out there that you never see in southwest Ohio, that’s the kind of guy he was,” Gracie said.
According to Gracie, Joseph was diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphocytes, while teaching at the Miami University John E. Dolibois Center (MUDEC) in Luxembourg.
Gracie said Joseph was interested in giving his students new experiences while teaching in MUDEC.
“He wanted to take his students to England on a field trip to the east end of London so they would meet with social workers,” Gracie said. “They would in many ways experience a part of the world that most Miami students are unaware of and as a consequence I think those students’ lives were profoundly changed.”
Both Gracie and Carla Pestana, professor of history, said Joseph’s funeral in Kumler Chapel was filled with faculty and other members of the Oxford community.
According to Pestana, the Joseph family played an integral part in the Oxford community with each of the Joseph sons attending Talawanda [School District] schools and the family’s involvement in Oxford Citizens for Peace and Justice.
“The Kumler Chapel was full and there were people standing in the back,” Pestana said. “It was a very nice mix of faculty and a lot of people from the Oxford community. They’re a really wonderful family that a lot of people feel close to.”
Gracie was impressed with the show of emotion at Joseph’s funeral.
“There was more than one person weeping, which is always a tribute,” Gracie said.
Pestana said Gracie gave a “beautiful speech about Alfred.”