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UNCP mourns the loss of longtime professor Dr. David Maxwell

Dr. David Maxwell

UNC Pembroke is mourning the loss of one of its own after longtime professor Dr. David Maxwell was killed in a traffic accident on Wednesday.

Colleagues remembered Maxwell for his compassion for students, dedication to his career and outstanding service to the university. He touched the lives of countless students during his 53-year tenure.

One of the longest-serving faculty members, Maxwell began his career in the Department of Biology in 1967. He served as department chair for 14 years and administered the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) program for more than 15 years.

Dr. Andy Ash said Maxwell was more like a brother than a colleague.

“He was the most honest and as good a person as I’ve known in my life,” Ash said. “Dave Maxwell was one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met. As far as his interactions with students, he required them to master the material, and he cared about the transfer of knowledge, but he was one of the most kind and compassionate professors you would ever meet.

“I loved Dave as a brother. He was not only a role model, he was one my closest friends. He was just a fine human being. You run out of superlatives when you try to talk about Dave Maxwell.”

A native of Smithville, Tenn., Maxwell was 22 when he joined the UNCP faculty after earning his undergraduate and master’s degree in biology and fishery science from Tennessee Technological University. He later earned a Ph.D. in vertebrate physiology from N.C. State University.

Colleagues recalled his near photographic memory and said he was well versed in anatomy, physiology, animal physiology, and vertebrate zoology, which were among his more frequent course offerings.

“Outside his academic and research achievements, he was a tremendously intelligent person,” Ash said. “I can remember during a seminar he would ask the program speakers questions they couldn’t answer, and these were leaders in the research field in anatomy and physiology.”

Dr. Jeff Frederick, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, described Maxwell as a true gentleman who was quick with a smile and a calm and understated manner that put everyone at ease.

“He served in many roles during his time at UNCP, excelling while making countless friends from across campus. Students loved him. His colleagues admired, respected, and loved him.”

Maxwell will be remembered for his lifelong service to the university and its students.

“Dave’s impact to this institute is best measured by the length, care, intelligence and compassion to the service he brought to UNCP. His qualities were mostly intangible. He was a student-first kind of educator.”

He leaves behind his loving family, and wife, Vivian.