The Catholic University Of America
Office of the President
Washington, D.C. 20064
December 17, 2001
Benedict T. DeCicco, Ph.D.
It is with much sadness that I write to announce the passing of our colleague and friend, Benedict ("Dick") T. DeCicco, Ph.D., after a long and valiant struggle against cancer. In the midst of his suffering, Dick always radiated an incredible determination to live his life to the full. He inspired so many of us so very often during these past several years. Scholar and teacher, scientist and mentor, vice provost and graduate dean, colleague and friend — in whatever roles we came to know, respect and love him — Dick witnessed to the very best of The Catholic University of America: what it stands for and represents, what it has been and will continue to be because of dedicated faculty like him.
Dick came to CUA in 1964 shortly after receiving his Ph.D. in microbiology from Rutgers University. He received tenure in 1971 and was promoted to ordinary professor in 1978. He served as chair of the biology department from 1973 to 1977, and again from 1986 to 1992.
A leader inside and outside the classroom, Dick DeCicco served on numerous university committees dealing with budget and planning issues. He was awarded the Academic Vice President’s Service Excellence Award in 1989 and was named the CASE District of Columbia Professor of the Year in 1989. In 1990, he agreed to co-chair the Steering Committee for the Middle States Accreditation self-study.
Dick served as vice provost and dean of graduate studies for 11 months: August 1998 through June 1999. He stepped down as vice provost because of his heath.
Provost John Convey remembered Dick as “the consummate professional — an accomplished researcher, excellent teacher and wonderful colleague. CUA was fortunate to have a faculty member of the quality of Dick DeCicco.”
Dean Antanas Suziedelis of the School of Arts and Sciences noted that “Dr. DeCicco was a superb teacher, a tireless worker for the university in many roles, a gentle man and a person with the rare gift of unfailing common sense. I often sought his counsel, and I will miss his friendship keenly.”
And Ordinary Professor James Greene, a fellow faculty member in the Department of Biology, said Dick was “an extraordinary colleague and a chairperson who took such an intense personal interest in his colleagues, particularly the junior faculty, that he was a mentor to us. He helped me write and coordinate my first research grant. It was funded in no small part due to his efforts. It helped me get my research started here at CUA.”
On Thursday evening, Dec. 13, Father Robert Schlageter, university chaplain, and I visited with Dick at the Washington Hospital Center, following a visit earlier in the day by Provost Convey. His spirits were good and he spoke with typical and inspiring optimism about his condition. He invited Father Bob to return to pray with him the next day. During the night, he took a turn for the worse. Surrounded by his wife, his children, Marion Ficke and other close friends from the Department of Biology, Father Bob prayed for Dick and for his family on Friday afternoon. Dick died during the night on Dec. 14.
The wake for Dick is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2001, at Evans Funeral Home, Rt. 450, Bowie, Md (301-464-8836), from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. The funeral Mass will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2001, at Sacred Heart Church in Bowie. Condolences may be sent to Mrs. Dori DeCicco and family at 12505 Caswell Lane Bowie, Md 20715. In lieu of flowers the family asks that contributions be sent to the Benedict T. DeCicco Graduate Research Scholarship Fund care of the CUA Department of Biology.
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Christ came to Dick DeCicco early this Christmas season. All of us at The Catholic University of America who were privileged to be touched by his life and work and commitment shall miss him greatly. May he rest forever in God's peace.
Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M.