Obituary: Barbara Lazarus Worked for Inclusion and Understanding
Barbara Lazarus, associate provost for academic affairs, died this summer (July 15) following complications from cancer. A celebration of her life and work will be held on Friday, Oct. 17.
Winner of Carnegie Mellon's Doherty Prize, Barbara Lazarus touched the lives of hundreds of students and staff through her efforts to give women and minorities increased access to non-traditional occupations. Her commitment to promoting women and minorities in science and engineering and to creating the Undergraduate Research Initiative has had an impact on campus and beyond.
"Barbara brought to Carnegie Mellon her compassion, understanding and spirit of activism and worked tirelessly for inclusion and understanding," said Indira Nair, vice provost for education. "Those of us who knew her learned to recognize when we would be swept into the work she inspired."
The work Lazarus inspired during her time at the university runs the gamut from starting a reading group in which female faculty and graduate students in science and engineering could share common experiences, to securing funding for the Small Undergraduate Research Grants that support student projects across disciplines.
Most recently Lazarus championed the Girls Math and Science Project as it developed "Explanatoids," signage that explains the science behind everything from roller coasters at Kennywood Park to curve balls at PNC Park.
She is the author or editor of several books, including Changing Lives: Life Stories of Asian Pioneers in Women's Studies; The Equity Equation: Fostering the Advancement of Women in Science and Engineering; Journeys of Women in Science and Engineering: No Universal Constants; and The Woman's Guide to Navigating the Ph.D. in Engineering & Science.
Lazarus received her bachelor's degree in anthropology from Brown University in 1967, her master's degree from the University of Connecticut in 1969 and her doctorate from the University of Massachusetts in 1973.
She joined the Carnegie Mellon community as associate dean in the School of Urban and Public Affairs (now The Heinz School) in 1985. She later served as an associate dean in the Graduate School of Industrial Administration and eventually became associate provost.
"Memories of Barbara will come to all of us who knew and loved and worked with her," said Nair. "We will miss her as we look around and see her work, the work that she kept doing until a few weeks before her deaththe work that we will keep doing."
Lazarus is survived by her husband, Engineering and Public Policy Professor Marvin Sirbu, daughter Margaret Ann Lazarus Sirbu, and son Benjamin James Lazarus Sirbu; her parents, David and Betty Lazarus of Urbana, Ill.; brother William of Washington, D.C.; brother Richard of Cabin John, Md.; and a sister, Mary Ann Lazarus of St. Louis, Mo.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Small Undergraduate Research Grant Program.