Professor Robert Dunne died on Saturday.
This is the first time one of my professors has died. It is disturbing. My assigned adviser Walter Feit died right after he retired and Serge Lang died three days after I talked to him. But there is something different when the professor actually taught a class I was in.
Dunne was also much younger than either Feit or Lang. He was only 59.
That's not the only thing that makes this disturbing: I've had professors where I barely remember their names and faces. Bob Dunne was not that sort of professor. He was engaging, charismatic and thoughtful. He was always willing to stay after class and talk about material even tangentially related to the subject.
I only took one class with Professor Dunne. That was Computers and the Law. The class was a gut. I think that Dunne didn't realize the normal level of material in a Yale class. Between preexisting general knowledge and the ease of the class, I could have not shown up to the lectures and gotten a similar grade. But I didn't skip class. Dunne was too good a lecturer. He was
thoughtful and funny. I learned things from him that would never be formally articulated in a textbook. He taught me the true rule of parody: Parody is accepted as a fair-use defense only if the court finds that parody funny. I cannot think of a better example of Dunne's humor and ability to cut through legalism. It is unfortunate that future students will not benefit from his teaching. He will be missed.