Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dr. Vincent Brown, Associate Professor of Psychology

The Hofstra community is deeply saddened by the recent passing of Associate Professor of Psychology Vincent Brown. He had been on the Hofstra faculty since 2001, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in cognitive psychology, research methods, and statistics.

Dr. Brown was previously an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Arlington and a Visiting Assistant Professor at Clarkson University and the University of Richmond. From 2008 to 2010, he served as Program Director in Perception, Action, and Cognition at the National Science Foundation. Dr. Brown was co-Principal Investigator, with Dr. Simona Doboli, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Hofstra, of a National Science Foundation grant on neural network models of individual and group brainstorming.

Vince Brown was an unassumingly brilliant teacher and researcher and a kind and generous friend to all who knew him. Dr. Brown's family requests that instead of sending flowers, friends may contribute to the Vincent R. Brown Memorial Fund, which will be awarded to future undergraduate psychology students on the basis of academic accomplishment. Contributions to the Vincent R. Brown Memorial Fund can be made via the Hofstra website Under Gift Designation, click the box for “in memory of” and type in Dr. Vincent R. Brown Memorial Fund, and the contribution will be directed to the fund.


  1. Kristin WeingartnerAugust 17, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    Vince was a great colleague and friend I am so grateful to have known him. His generosity and special brand of good humor made him one of a kind. I will miss him so much - we all will. I hope he is at peace. My thoughts are with his family.

  2. I was really shocked and saddened to hear this news this morning. Vince served as my Orals Chairperson last month and provided me with alot of great feedback. I always appreciated how willing he was to discuss topics with me outside of the classroom. I only had one class with Vince, but there were numerous encounters where he was willing to discuss whatever I was interested in at the time. I really liked this guy and I know he will be missed by many. My thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family.

  3. Vince was a kind individual who was always willing to lend a hand in any way that he could. He cared for his students and would always structure his classes with their best interests in mind. He was genuinely a nice person and he will be missed.

  4. This is so sad.
    Vince was my best friend in high school and one of the nicest people I ever knew.
    I lost touch with him when my family moved and I had not heard from him in 25 years. Then just one month ago I found him by googling and wrote him an email. He said that I found him but he said nothing else. I asked how he was doing but he said nothing. I guess he must have been very ill and did not want to trouble me with his problems. I wish I could have said goodbye.
    Goodbye Vince

  5. Vince was helpful and available even to those of us who were not his students. For me, his door was always open for advice about teaching methods. I will miss this kind, thoughtful, person who was generous with his time and expertise.
    -Daniel Hoffman, PhD in Clinical & School Psychology, 2009

  6. Vince and I met at a workshop on Scientific and Technological Thinking I organized in 2005. He and I became friends during his recent stint at the NSF; I was a rotator like him, started after he had been there for a year. He and I would walk the stairs instead of taking the elevator, and share our offbeat senses of humor. He and I also had deep discussions about research and the future of fields like psychology of science. He mentored me without seeming to do so, and I will miss him terribly--truly a great loss.

  7. Ramesh BalasubramaniamAugust 18, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    Miss you, Vince. Still can't believe the news.

    I will always remember watching the '08 presidential elections with you in DC.

  8. Vince made my first year at Hofstra a lot better with his nice personality and great sense of humor. I still have in my office some of the "anonymous messages" he used to leave around -- a pic of Skinner with a pigeon that reads "Dr. Pineno in his Hofstra lab" and a label that reads "Pineno's sludge" that mysteriously appeared on my coffee maker. Vince always managed to make me laugh just by being himself.

    He also made incredible efforts to make sure that I felt welcome in the Hofstra community. I will never forget the day my wife and I spent with him in New York City, especially the time we spent hunting for old books in his favorite book store.

    I still can't believe that we have lost such a great man. I miss you, Vince. You were a great friend.

  9. Much has already been said in even this short list of comments about Vince's generosity with his time and expertise. He was also generous with credit, always making other people's work better without wanting to take the limelight. Generous is the perfect word for him. Just about the only thing that made him mad was when he thought that someone was not being treated fairly. He has battled bureaucracy to help out colleagues and students, and made sure that all decisions were open and fair. He understood that each person might have something different to contribute, so he was most concerned with people being supported in doing what was important to them.

    And, of course, I will miss eating boatfuls of sushi and drinking single malt scotch with him. I could say so much more, but he wouldn't like us going to all this trouble about him, so I will stop, and allow someone else a turn.--Brian Cox

  10. I met Vince years ago, and we had a "convention friendhip," always managing to find time to talk when we were at the same meeting. In recent years, he arranged for me to give talks and to help at NSF review panels, and the best part of both was being able to talk with him for hours and hours.

    But so much more coulda', shoulda' been said between us. Goodbye, my friend.

  11. Vince served on my Ph.D. committee at the University of Texas at Arlington. He remained friends with many people at UTA after leaving. We are all shocked and sadden by the news of his passing. One of our favorite things in school was for Vince to hold a gathering of grad students on Fridays at a local pub. Cheers to Vince Brown, a great teacher and friend!

  12. I have so many great memories about Vince that I don't know where to begin. During my time working at Hofstra, Vince and I were two of a handful of professors who worked very late into the evening. We would often eat a late dinner together at a nearby pub. I remember those dinners so fondly. I would always just order a salad and then proceed to eat most of Vince's fries or bread. He never complained, he would always just laugh at me and offer to order extra food if I was still hungry.

    Vince was a friend and a mentor. He helped me through my first couple of years as a prof and could always be counted on to give the most insightful professional and personal advice. He had such a great and quirky sense of humor and always made me laugh with his oddball emails, notes, and drawings. To this day I think of him as Dr. Vinbrow, the name he once conjured up for his alter-ego.

    One of the things that I always appreciated about Vince his patience with my chronic lateness. He never once complained about the fact that I was late for about 100% of our meetings (even when I left him waiting for half an hour at the Hempstead train station late at night after he came all the way from DC). Instead of getting annoyed, he just joked that it wasn't my fault that I ran on Canadian time.

    I have met few people in my life as kind, generous, warm, open, funny, and brilliant as Vince. He was a great friend to people and animals alike, a dedicated and talented teacher and researcher, one of the best colleagues I've ever had the pleasure of working with, and one of the most unpretentiously brilliant people I've ever known. My heart goes out to Vince's family and close friends. He will be missed terribly by all who knew him.

  13. Vince was one of the brightest and most caring professors I have ever had. He was so generous with his time and energy, and always eager to engage his students in conversations about anything and everything. It was an honor to have met him, and I am deeply saddened that I won't have any more opportunities to stop by his office. He will be missed.

  14. Vince was a great friend and a great human being. Furthur, his contribution to my theoretical work and that of others was outstanding. There seemed no issue too complex for him.
    All of us who knew him face a daunting future without him, but hopefully he'll inspire us all to live up to his model.

  15. From the first day he started at NSF (possibly as early as his interview!) he lit up the office with his friendliness and his laugh. His stops by my office door to chat were often highlights in my day. His quirky sense of humor was amusing, and I’d frequently find random notes or objects on my desk that I knew only he would think of leaving just to make me smile. I enjoyed our afternoon breaks walking around the Ballston area, the race back up between his walking up the stairs and my lazily taking the elevator, dinners at Uncle Julio’s, and after-work drinks. He had an incredible memory, and never stopped surprising me by reminding me of things I had forgotten I said, frequently using such knowledge to tease and make me laugh.

    Although this is redundant with what everyone else has already said, I believe it cannot be said enough: Vince was a kind, generous, funny, and intelligent man. He was so supportive, giving his time selflessly to help others. He made an effort to make the people he cared about happy. I only wish I gave more to him as he gave to others.

    I missed him when he was out of the office traveling for work. I missed him even more when he moved back to Long Island and I could no longer see him regularly. I will miss him still more now and always.

  16. If you’re lucky, you will meet someone who completely changes your life, making it more vivid and full of possibility than you ever could have imagined. Vince was that person for me. He led me to many doors that I eventually walked through.

    I always thought that he was the perfect big brother and friend (and the ever-constant smudges on glasses gave me fodder for ribbing…). Little did I know when I was in college that guys like him are impossible to find.

    Indra’s net has one more jewel.

  17. Vince was one of the nicest human beings I have ever known, with grace, kindness, and a great sense of humor. For me, in the years we worked together, he was not just a great friend and wonderful collaborator, but also a mentor, from whom I learned a lot. He gave generously of himself and asked nothing in return. There are few people that I looked forward to seeing with more pleasant anticipation, as I am sure did all who knew him. I saw him just a few days ago in California where we made plans for the coming year. It is hard to believe that he is gone! RIP, Vince!

  18. Vince was for me the textbook example of what an academic should be: someone who loved to hang out with both students and colleagues and was ready to tackle just about any idea. We need more caring scholars like him in this age of hard-driving lab bosses. Though he was junior to me his energy helped my career in many ways, like helping me find a home in my current department and get my first major grant. And for twenty years he was a great friend. We enjoyed going together to plays, ethnic restaurants, and baseball games: when we both went to a conference last year in Boston he got us to get tickets to a game at Fenway Park, which was supposed to be impossible. It's hard to think of him as dead because he had such vital energy.

  19. I'm so sad to hear about Dr. Brown's passing. Dr. Brown was a great advisor and I always enjoyed talking with him. He was a really friendly and helpful guy. He was a guy who genuinely cared about his students and wanted to help them as much as possible. RIP Dr. Brown, you'll be missed!

  20. My first meetings with Vince were as a first year grad student at conferences, and Vince's demeanor used to instantly put me at ease. He was patient and helpful, friendly and very easygoing, and I always looked forward to meeting him during these conferences. He never forgot to encourage me after every conference presentation I made, never forgot to acknowledge me for the work I have done, and never hesitated to be very friendly, and cheerful. Whenever I was down or stressed, or even tired, I could just sit down with him, relax, and be myself. I never had to think twice about what to speak, or how to act - all I had to do was be myself, and yet not be judged - something I could do with very few. I did not need to think twice about what to talk to him, what not to - I could just pick a conversation with him just about anything.

    One thing I admired in him a lot was that he was hardly materialistic. He was simple in the way he dressed, uncomplicated but very clear in the way he thought, easy going in the way he spoke, and his demeanour engendered a sense of comfort - something that can easily be taken for granted but is actually very rare.

    Vince was our collaborator, and was an integral part of my Ph.D. experience. I am ready to graduate. I said my last goodbye to him at San Jose, just ten days before they found out about his demise. I was to meet him next at my defense...

    Vince we remember you fondly...

  21. Vince mentored my Senior Thesis as an undergrad, and was amazingly generous with his time and effort, giving me far more time than I had any right to expect. His dedication, and easygoing manner, were appreciated...Even after I moved on to grad school, in public policy of all things, he kept in touch, and made sure that the research I had done was presented at conferences, etc.

    I'd been out of touch with him recently, and never got a chance to show him my just-completed dissertation...I think he would have been proud. I still remember, fondly, coming back to Hofstra a year after I graduated to present at the Clinton Presidential Conference--Vince showed up to hear me talk, completely unexpectedly. Yet another example of his giving nature with his time and expertise.

  22. I still can't believe I'll never see Vince again. When we both worked at NSF, often he'd go to the gym, then we'd meet for a late dinner and great conversation.

    He was truly an exceptional scholar. Curious about everything. Creative and playful. Always willing to go out of his way to help.

    I found Vince's company enormously comforting when I was grieving from putting my beloved cat to sleep last year and last month while grieving the loss of two elderly relatives and anticipating the loss of a third. When his dad died unexpectedly, I was glad to come up to NY and accompany Vince on his pilgrimage to scenes of his father's early childhood. I can only hope I was able to provide even a small measure of comfort.

    I so enjoyed helping Vince set up his place on Warren last fall. It was a challenge to pick out furniture that would fit and find things that didn't clash with the funky carpet and wall colors, but I enjoyed going up to Hempstead to assemble it all. It seemed like I always got something wrong in putting the furniture together, but it was a lot of fun. Then we would go out to Hofstra or to Manhattan and see a play, a museum, a movie, go sightseeing, or to his favorite bookstore.

    I have so many great memories of my visits and I thought there would be time for so many more visits to come. Vince's death is an enormous loss.

    1. Susan, I'm carol, the Chinese girl went to the football game with you at stony brook university in 2010 fall. I just know this. I can't believe this actually happened. He was so so nice to me!! I really want to know what happened to him. Would you contact me at ? Thank you very much.

  23. Vince was a great colleague and friend. I enjoyed talking with him and appreciated his great insights into psychology and cognitive science. More than that, he was a kind and generous person who gave of himself to help others. He will be missed!

  24. I remember the day Vince interviewed for the assistant professor position at UT Arlington. He wore a wrinkled white shirt with no tie—a bit different than the typical candidate. Yet his quiet intellect shone through, and he was hired for the position. After I gave a talk on my research he came to me with some ideas about developing a cognitive model of group creativity. From that point we developed a phenomenally productive intellectual partnership. He greatly enhanced the scope of my work, was a great co-mentor to my students and dear friend. When he left UTA we continued our collaboration and shared many visits at UTA and at his other institutions. He was one of the most dedicated teachers ever in our department and collaborated on projects with many of the department’s faculty. He had a knack for understanding the problems on which others were working and adding his significant insights and modeling skills to take them to a new level. Whenever I would visit he was always a great host—we shared great dinners, a visit to Montreal, Broadway plays and golf at Bethpage (he enjoyed just riding along with me). He played a key role the development of several major collaborative grants, including some all night writing sessions. He was a bright, caring, and faithful friend and colleague. He had so much more to give the world. His untimely passing has left a big hole in my life and is a major loss to the field.

  25. I knew Vince when he first came to the University of Richmond as a visiting assistant professor. We had developed a very close friendship. I still remember that dinner we had together with Lila Gleitman who was visiting, where he shared his humor and kindness in many ways, an example that he demonstrated in many other occasions. I later went to work for the NSF and it was me to convince Vince to go there too, so we overlapped for a year as 2-year 'rotators'. We had visited restaurants with colleagues many times, in addition to the fond memories I had for working together at NSF. Samuel, a close friend, during one dinner, proposed to be a match maker for him, and wanted to find a Chinese wife for him. Betty, a NSF colleague, said that anyone who is not a native speaker of English will have a hard time to appreciate his humor and language (Samuel dropped the matchmaker idea in the end).

    As anyone who knows him can say, Vince is one of the nicest and most kind people we know, and it's hard to believe that bad luck like this would happen to him. It was very sad, a total shock, and very difficult for me to take this news.

  26. Vince came to NSF about a year after I had; I'd asked Ping to attend one of my panels, and Ping sent Vince. Vince remembered me from graduate school at UCI -- he was a grad student in psychology, and I was in computer science. I didn't remember him but apparently we'd attended some of the same grad student parties and seminars, in both social sciences and artificial intelligence and machine learning.

    As has been said so many times on this blog, Vince was a really nice guy. We worked together loosely on a few projects at NSF and we commiserated together. I thought about calling Vince just a couple of weeks before he died to ask his opinion on a letter I'd written to my Congressional delegation about NSF. I wish I had.

    People like Vince make me feel good to be human. RIP, Vince.

  27. Even only having known Vince for the past year, I quickly found him to be a very friendly, thoughtful, and dedicated individual. After department colloquiums and in the office late nights, he always made an effort to say hi and see how things were going in my first year, helping me to feel welcome and at ease. Vince was a great guy and will be sorely missed.

  28. Remembering with fondness: the goofy names Vince invented for different exercises at the gym ("lunch ladies", anyone?), the Friday afternoons hashing through James, or Churchland or Searle, the silly puns that magically appeared on sticky notes at just the right time.

    Remembering with gratitude and utter appreciation: the nights Vince picked up my kids from daycare and fed them dinner so that I could accept a summer internship and not be so poor. And so many many other similar incidents -- truly Vince was one of the most generous and giving men I've ever known.

    Remembering with love how Vince tutored me, not just in Psychology, but in life. He showed me how to be genuine, how to give unselfishly, how to find the joy in every situation. Dear, dear friend, you will live on forever in my heart.

  29. It was a great shock to hear the news. Vince and I did not have much contact but every time we met, I found it interesting and wanted to talk some more. My last contact with Vince was when he chaired a defense of one of my students. By means of his intelligent questions relayed in an inquisitive manner, he managed to make the defense into an intellectual conversation on a subject not of primary interst to him. I will miss him.

  30. Vince was the chair of my dissertation at UT Arlington. But long before that I saw something in Vince that I admired. He loved Psychology in all its variety. Some said this was his shortcoming, that he didn't focus on one area of research, but was too scattered across too many areas of interest. But I saw that as a strength, and something I could relate to. I also admired his willingness to collaborate with colleagues, within Psychology and even other areas of campus. Vince not only had a depth of intellect, but a breadth that was stunning. He could carry on intelligent conversations about topics as varied as physics and philosophy. While Vince could easily converse with colleagues from various areas of of the campus, he was also extremely talented at parsing difficult concepts and ideas into pieces easily digestible by students. But more than research, and more than teaching, Vince truly loved working with students. Vince maintained high expectations for his students, but he would ensure, if they were interested in learning, they had every opportunity to learn the material, even if it meant additional work after class. But like Scott said in a previous post, Vince took ALL opportunities to work with students, and he valued their feedback as much as he imparted his own. Book readings and discussions at the local pub were a wonderful opportunity for us to experience the transition from student learner to fellow colleague. While our paths took us in different directions, I never have forgotten all the great things Vince taught me; the most significant being the value of treating students and colleagues with respect and realizing that all people offer us a chance to learn and to teach. My heart hurts at his loss, and those who will never have the opportunity to have him, as a colleague, teacher and friend. Vince, you continue to live on in all those whom you touched over the years. My deepest condolences go to his family.

  31. Vince was a great colleague and friend. He was sharp and kind, always looking out for others. I admired his fearlessness and conviction most – he would speak up and say what was on his mind, even if it was unpopular. Balanced with his thoughtfulness, rationality, and charm, Vince made it possible to completely disagree without any negativity. I have such fond memories of talking with him at odd hours on campus and through traffic jams on our way into the city. I will miss his warm presence, especially during quiet evenings in Hauser Hall.

  32. I was fortunate to take Learning and Memory early in my undergraduate career from Dr. Brown. I remember the way he creatively illustrated concepts from class and infused the material with both his obvious passion for the discipline and his quirky, warm style. For example, I'll never forget how he illustrated classical and operant conditioning principles by telling a tale of a boy that developed (and maintained) a severe phobia of raisins. I'm teaching these concepts to my class next week as a first-year professor and will try my best to emulate his excellent teaching and care for students, as well as carry on the raisin example and tell them about the great guy I learned it from.

  33. MarthaLeah ChaikenAugust 22, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    I don't know where to start. Since I first knew him Vince has always there and ready to help.

    As so many of you have written, Vince was generous, kind, honest, brilliant, and modest, to which I can add...

    He would risk his own status to stand up for a colleague.
    He never held a grudge.
    He had a deep appreciation of mathematics.
    He continued to grow both personally and professionally over the time that I knew him.
    He always spoke fondly of his family.

    Vince came to visit me in Montpelier this July after a conference in Boston. We had a perfect three days, which I will be so glad to remember. Some of you have seen these photos:

  34. I am glad that I knew Vince. He was very generous with his time. He helped in any way he could. He always tried to make things better for people. And, he always had a crazy cat story to share:) It makes me smile when I think of him referring to Einstein as a young man. I'll miss him.

  35. I am terribly sad about the passing of such a wonderful person. I knew Vince for a very short time while I was a student at Hofstra, and yet I feel like I knew him quickly because of his warmness and openness. Within a few months of knowing him, it was evident that he was generous, kind,and genuinely interested in every student (and others, too) that he came in contact with. He was a staunch supporter of students and their paths to knowledge, and he will be deeply missed.

  36. I have had a very hard time even beginning to put my thoughts about Vince into words. As everyone has written, Vince was kind, generous, fun, and very smart. But this list doesn't capture his spirit. We worked together for two years at NSF and so often when I'd read one of his emails (usually just a line or two) I'd laugh out loud. He could turn almost anything into a wry pun. Vince also had a knack of making everyone feel at ease. When he disagreed with something, he would hem and haw a little, usually accompanied by pacing, until he could clearly articulate what it was that just didn't sit right with him. He would spend countless hours deciding what celebrity you looked most like then, long after it had been decided, he'd send an email with a better (and funnier) doppelganger. He always walked the 9 flights to our offices but we compromised--I'd walk the stairs unless I was carrying a cup of coffee. Even he knew how foolhardy that would be.

    Vince spent much time and thought talking with new investigators, helping them understand the reviews or rethink their proposals, but always in a non-judgmental way. He never seemed to get frustrated or exasperated during those interactions (I certainly can't claim the same equanimity).

    Above all, Vince was a decent man and generous of spirit. He is missed.

  37. Ah, Vinnie!

    Yes... kind, generous, blindingly brilliant, wickedly witty, unpretentious, unassuming Vinnie!

    Vinnie cared about people he knew and cared for, and cared about people he just met. It showed in his actions.

    Vinnie could make incredible connections between people, things, concepts.

    And don't forget the
    m i s c h e i v o u s
    Vinnie... that look when Vince was [you fill in the blank]!

    I am a better person for having been friends with Vince. Thanks, buddy for being Vinnie...

  38. I didn't know Vince that well -- we were grad students together at UCI Social Sciences, but in different programs. Still, I somehow scored an invitation to his Verano apartment for a Super Bowl XXIV party, which would have made the year 1990. Being from Denver originally, I was perhaps the only Broncos fan in the large, boisterous -- possibly slightly inebriated -- crowd of grad students.

    Well, as you may recall, the Niners won their fourth Super Bowl, crushing the Broncos 55-10 -- which, as Wikipedia unhelpfully points out, "remains the most lopsided game in Super Bowl history to date."

    Besides the score, the only thing I remember from that day was talking with Vince afterward and being amazed that he wasn't gloating and trash-talking (possibly the only one in the room not to do so). In fact, he and I didn't talk about football at all. He was just his usual, calm self talking about things of interest -- which, at that moment, didn't include football. It was as if he was purposely saying, "Hey, don't worry about it. It's just a game."

    Vince, among his many positive attributes, always knew what was important and what was not. Just another reason he'll be missed.

  39. I was a TA of Vince's when I was at U of Richmond, and just googled him by chance to see where his career had led him.

    At UR, I was often in the psych building very late at night, and we'd end up in ridiculously obscure conversations well past an hour normal people should be asleep. Once, I ended up in an impassioned discussion in an ethics class that was not his, and evidently he heard about it, because several days later he brought a related article by my office. We discussed the topic at length once again. Having read a number of the posts before mine, it seems it was that kind of thoughtfulness that characterized him.


  40. Friends may contribute to the Vincent R. Brown Memorial Fund which will be awarded to future undergraduate psychology students on the basis of academic accomplishment. Contributions to the Vincent R. Brown Memorial Fund may be made via the Hofstra website . Under Gift Designation, click the box for “in memory of” and type in Dr. Vincent R. Brown Memorial Fund, and the contribution will be directed to the fund.

  41. I am extremely shocked to hear this news about Dr. Vincent Brown. He was an amazing professor and was always so generous with his time. He was one of the professors I was able to always contact and ask for advice or guidance. Brown was always so willing to get to know his students and he sincerely cared. One of my best professors at Hofstra University and I will truly miss him and his support, as will many other students.

    Dr. Vincent Brown, thank you for all the discussions in class and pointing us all in the right direction when we didn't understand. You've made a huge impact on me, and many others.

  42. As an older student, I studied experimental and cognitive psych with Vince at UTA and we became friends. Vince was one of the brightest people I've ever known and yet so down-to-earth and grounded in reality. A gentle and caring soul was he, a good man, an excellent teacher, and a one-in-a-million human being. Thank you, Vince. I will miss you. God speed.

  43. I was very saddened to hear about Professor Brown's passing. I was a student of his and he always took the time to help. I would often meet him walking over the unispan and he always took the time to talk. I only wish he had more time; he accomplished a lot in his short time here, by reading these memories that's all one could wish for - that we are remembered in such a beautiful way, in touching the lives of others.

  44. Vince was my roommate in graduate school at UC Irvine and I have so many good memories of our times together. The Thanksgiving dinner when we dropped the turkey. Picking him up at the mechanics when Bessy, his Ford Maverick was in need of repair. Deciding who would talk to the Campus Patrol when they came to deal with what we thought was an excellent Halloween Party. The trip to Vegas and discovering how useful the electric sidewalk was after the all-you-can drink champagne buffet. Meeting Saturday mornings with Bjorn the Jehovah's Witness who was an elderly retired diesel mechanic and would talk to us about God... and always being slightly relieved if Bjorn didn't show but worried if he was OK if he didn't show for a few weeks. Graduate School can be just a wee bit stressful but having Vince as a roommate was so good for developing a charitable resilience to the weirdness academia can throw at you. After our graduation and everybody going their own way it was very hard to stay in touch, and Vince had a charming mystery to his accessibility so it always seemed a special opportunity when we'd have an email exchange or met at a conference. I'm so happy to see all the warm comments about Vince's intelligence, kindness and generosity over the years since that is as I remember him back in grad school. I missed Vince when we graduated and weren't roomies anymore but it was always a comfort to know the he was out there somewhere and someday we could chat again about research or retirement plans for a buffalo ranch or the Minnesota Vikings performance in postseason play. I struggle to find an end to this posting since I know that on the upside I feel my life the better for my times with Vince, but on the downside I feel so very sad on his passing....

  45. Vince was my professor back in the spring of 2005, when, as an older student and Hofstra employee, I was very eager to finish my degree. The class met during the day. It was difficult for me to attend because I had to ask special permission to leave the office. I am so glad I did.

    All of Vince’s qualities mentioned in the previous messages were present in the classroom and outside of it. I worked in the brainstorming project with professors Brown and Doboli for a while, but had to give it up because of time/work constraints. Still, when Vince and Simona presented the findings of that period, my name was included in the credits. I was so proud of being part of that brilliant team, even if only temporarily and in a minor role.

    My only free time then was on the weekends, and I would come in to Hauser Hall very early in the morning. When I was about to finish my contributions to this project, Vince told me he wanted to meet me one Sunday. I thought he wanted to finalize the work. Instead, he wanted to take me out to lunch to thank me for my work. We had Italian and I got to meet his beautiful cats afterwards. Vince was very sweet. It was a lovely afternoon.

    By now, I know very well the natural course of life. After having lost many loved ones, I am not wiser, nor am I more prepared for the next loss. I only knew Vince a little but hurt so much knowing I won’t bump into him around campus as I often did. My heart goes out to Vince’s family and close friends.

  46. I only saw Vince ‘exercised’ when one of his colleagues, students, or cats was not treated well. Other than that, he didn’t seem to worry about the small stuff (e.g., cars, office furniture, titles). When he first came for a job interview at Hofstra, Marc Carter and I took him fishing. I’m not sure he actually fished, but he was great company and helped carry the beer. He didn’t get the job – go figure—but not long after he interviewed again and was hired—a very good move for our department.

    Vince didn’t have office hours in the normal sense. He was easy to find and always game to kick around ideas with students and colleagues, and always helpful. A good friend who could disagree in the most disarming way, with a first-class mind, he inspired.

    Here is a photo of Vince and friends at Café Baci in 2008:

  47. More photos of Vince:

  48. Truly original, creative, gentle and generous person, great sense of humor! Vince adopted me at the Psych table during the Hofstra X-mas parties. Whenever we bumped into each other, we talked and talked... about many things. We talked also about computer vision (he knew my filed, I did not know his :) He landed me books. I still have one of his books, and I am not giving it away! It was always a joy to see him and chat. We did not meet often, still I miss him deeply. He reminded me of Doc, from Cannery Row. Still does, and this is how I remember him...

  49. I only JUST saw this now in the alumni magazine and was very sad to read it. Vince's first year as a professor at Hofstra was my last year as a student. I never had him for a class, but I did interview him for The Chronicle once. As I progressed through grad school and info my first faculty job, Vince always recognized me and talked to me at conferences. When he was at NSF two summers ago, I emailed him for some tips about grant writing and we ended up having a lengthy conversation on the phone. I did not know him well, but he was always extremely nice and generous to me, so I can only imagine how nice he was to people he knew well! - Mike Serra

  50. Vince and I overlapped at UTA; I was a grad. student there. We recently bumped into to each other at a conference where we had an opportunity to catch up. I got to see him one more time--when he invited out to Hofstra to speak. What everyone says about him is true--he was great to talk with, had a wonderful sense of humor and loved psychology. He will truly be missed.

  51. I was a classmate of Vince's at Carleton College. We were on the same residence floor in freshman year and we roomed together with John Mims and Scott Porter our last two years there. It was a delightful surprise in June 2009 when Vince turned up at our 25th reunion at Carleton. I had a great time catching up and having pizza at Bill's with him. It was another Carleton friend who sent me an e-mail just a couple of hours ago informing me of Vince's passing.

    Reading the comments of others, it is clear that Vince changed very little from the time that we roomed together to last summer. I will always remember his razor-sharp mind, broad curiosity, modesty, unfailing kindness and (oft-noted) unusual but wicked sense of humor. It is absolutely no surprise to me that Vince was a superb teacher and academic.

    When I googled Vince's name to try to find his obituary, the search turned up two other Vince Brown's who passed away last summer: a reputed Annishnabee Indian artist with links to Minnesota and a pit BBQ owner from Arlington, Va. Somewhere out there, I know Vince is chortling.

    He will be sadly missed and now my ambitions for a reunion of my Carleton roomies much go unfulfilled. A terrible loss.

  52. Andrew SpiropoulosMarch 12, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    I too was fortunate to go to college with Vince. He was a mensch. He was brilliant, humble, wry, and managed to be both a mystery and a joy to those around him. May his memory be eternal.

  53. THIS IS PART 1 of 3:

    Yesterday I learned that Vince had died. I hadn’t talked with Vince since 2001 but occasionally I would check in on him via the internet and see where he was and how he was doing. The last time was years ago when I saw that he was at NSF. Last night for some reason I wanted to check on him and found out that he died a year and a half ago. I’m very saddened and we will sure miss him. He really was one of the few good people in the world.

    I met Vince as a graduate student in psychology in the Spring of 1997 at UTA. I would see him from time to time eat dinner alone at the only school cafeteria. He would sit there all by himself staring off into space. He would never bring anything to read and he’d take his time and relax. I was really curious about this as I was 10 years his junior and wondered what his life was like.

    That semester he co-taught a graduate perception class with Dr. Bernstein. He had this quirky way about him and I can remember some of his jokes and how he would look at you with a pause to see if you “got it.” He was a good teacher and he knew his subject matter well. It was enjoyable to have his class.

    During this time period I believe he had been denied tenure and was given one additional year of employment, the 1997 – 1998 Academic year. I believe that some of the faculty, mainly Dr. Bernstein as I recall, did not think his research productivity made the grade. I also think there was some personal animosity between them. I think the gauntlet came down for Vince pretty much when I entered the program so I only knew him through this transition.

    To me he was young, and he could relate well to all of the graduate students. Everyone liked him. I liked him. I know Dr. Paulus liked him. He had a wide variety of interests, he could play violin, he was a black belt in a martial art, he loved to read, and he had wide ranging academic interests. His schedule was as such that he would take Friday evening off through Sunday morning and at all other times he was working at the University, every night, late into the night.

    In the Fall of 1997 he was on our intramural football team. The grad students got a team together and when he would play with us everyone would call him “Vince” but I’d still call him Dr. Brown. I think we transitioned to basketball the next semester and I have this memory of Vince holding our ground against another team of punks. Some guy wanted to start a fight with us and he was like “you want to start a fight, then let’s go, let’s start a fight.” Vince by no way was aggressive, he was one of the kindest and softest people you would ever meet, full of giving and generosity. But he could stand his ground. In some ways you could say he was mysterious.

    As a night owl at times I could outlast Vince as the sole roamer of halls in the life sciences building. He had this box in front of his door of used books that he was trying to give away and late at night I would pick some up and read them at home. Some were academic texts, but some were pop fiction, I remember picking up and reading Disclosure by Michael Crichton. Later on he realized I was the one taking the books. It was me and I liked him as a person and friend and I felt those books were special. I still have them today.

    One time I drove Vince to a seminar at UT Dallas. This was harrowing since being a poor graduate student I couldn’t afford car insurance so I was praying not to get into an accident. (As a side note I remember Vince stating that at one point he abandoned his car at an intersection

  54. THIS IS PART 2 of 3:

    after it was involved in an accident. I always thought that was the funniest thing, he would wonder where the car was now.) After Vince gave his talk one of the UT Dallas Psych professors asked him a number of theoretical and mathematical questions about his cognitive model. Vince could barely keep up and I was completely lost. Before we left Vince said to me “there will always be people out there that are brighter than you.” And that was not a put down, he was realistic and was in full control of what he could give to the world.

    In the mid Spring of 1998 I was in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Paulus. He had research interests most aligned with my own and he and Dr. Ickes were the most productive and popular professors in the department. That said, Dr. Paulus had about 4 graduate students deep before he could start a Master’s thesis with me. He suggested that I work with Vince on a Cognitive Model of Brainstorming. Initially it was a master’s equivalency and then turned into a full master’s thesis once I realized I would be leaving the school and applying to other PhD programs, this time in Business Administration. I learned more about brainstorming than I probably ever needed but working with Vince was really the single best time I ever got to work with a professor. He had a smaller lab, I remember Michael Tumeo and maybe one or two others. I don’t know if Vince had chaired any other Master’s or Doctoral committees at UTA other than myself or Michael’s.

    As I side note I want to say that it was my belief that Dr. Paulus looked out for Vince and really cared about him. I don’t know what the age difference was, but maybe Dr. Paulus thought of him as a son, or Dr. Paulus was more like an uncle. We all thought very highly of Dr. Paulus, but in turn Dr. Paulus thought very highly of Vince. It was some type of respect. To use popular terminology it was like Vince “got his props” from Dr. Paulus and that upped his standing. Later on it seems, based on the comments above and research productivity, they had a successful collaboration working together. It was honestly professional of Dr. Paulus, and a number of other UTA psych professors, to continue their ties with Vince after he had left.

    People are always astonished when I tell my stories about working with Vince. My favorite story is one night, deep in the summer at 3am, and with my apartment door wide open, Vince pulls up with his Ford Probe right next to my door, walks on in, and gives me more work to do. It was one of those late, hot summer nights with waterbugs flying and humidity to the red that were unbearable. But it was great having that relationship with him. He’d take my girlfriend and I out to eat, buy us pizza and we’d split a pitcher of beer. We remember taking care of his cats for a while and helping him with some moving with his transition to Richmond.

    Vince really did have a sense of humor. Before my master’s thesis defense I told him a story about a San Jose graduate student who placed a gun in a medical box inside the room of his thesis defense. His defense didn’t go too well and then he gunned down everybody in the room and fled the scene. By today’s standards in 2013 this is by far completely politically incorrect to discuss or more so, abjectly inappropriate, but in 1998 there was still a little leeway left to people and their comments, and relations with one another. In response, and completely unfazed, Vince restated a story he heard about a Stanford professor whose skull was bashed in with a hammer by a graduate student who didn’t pass their thesis examination. Please don’t read this in horror or subject 1998 to the political correctness of today. Vince had a wicked sense of humor and was the better for it.

  55. THIS IS PART 3 of 3:

    The last time I saw Vince in person was his last day in Arlington. We went out to eat and then he stayed downstairs in our apartment on the couch. We had some beers together and then the next morning he was gone. I always felt special that the last day he spent there was with me.

    Over the Fall of 1998 I eventually left UTA and he was in Richmond and I completed the writing of my thesis via fax, e-mail, phone calls and fedex. Probably a little more novel at the time, now I assume common place. The next semester I began a PhD program at WSU in the Management department, but still essentially was studying psychology. The times I had there never compared to working with Vince.

    We revised my thesis at one point and I presented it at a Management conference and I think some of the research was in a journal article with Dr. Paulus, so for a few years I would still be in regular contact with him. The last time we talked was in 2001.

    Over the years I thought about contacting him again, but my life shifted to outside of academics. I would check up and see how he was doing via the internet and was very happy to learn that he got tenure at Hofstra. Then I learned that he went to NSF and I was sure that was an exciting opportunity for him.

    Vince was one of those few great people that you meet. The most important attribute was his goodness. He was a good person. He cared about other people and was kind and thoughtful. He was very bright and very hard working and everyone that I knew thought the best of him. There are so few people I can call genuinely “good.” Vince was a good man.

    I will miss you Vince and will come to see you in New Mexico to say goodbye. Thank you for all that you gave to me, and as it seems we all want to thank you for being, just you.

  56. Vince was in my graduate school program at UCI. I just found out about his passing now, as I've been trying to get in touch with him after losing contact for a few years. All I can say is I'm shocked. He was truly a great guy and will be missed. My best to his family and loved ones.

    Rafi Khan

  57. Love and miss him more each day.