Dr. Gilles Patry
Rector, University of Ottawa
I want to begin by offering my deepest personal condolences and those of the entire University community to Mrs. Rival, to Ivanís children Robert, David and Katia, to his daughter-in-law Chantal, and to his parents, Edith and Zoltan. I am honoured to have been asked to say a few words this morning.
Regardless of circumstance, death almost always comes far too soon, but in Ivanís case, his sudden and unexpected passing at the age of 54 can only be described as a theft of something precious.
It has robbed his wife and family of a loving husband, son and father. It has robbed his colleagues of a friend and inspiration. It has robbed his students of a first-rate teacher, mentor and guide. It has robbed his discipline of the extremely innovative input of a very creative mind. And it has robbed this University of Ottawa of one of its finest faculty members. For all of these reasons and countless more, Ivan will be dearly and sorely missed. His passing represents a tremendous loss for all of us.
Ivan joined the University in 1986 as a professor of computer science and mathematics. What a coup it was to attract him! His reputation, as they say, preceded him. During a decade of teaching and research at the University of Calgary, and as an organizer of international conferences on an emerging area of mathematics, he became a world leader in the field of ordered sets and his work inspired a generation of mathematicians. The University of Ottawa was, quite frankly, lucky to get him.
But Ivan wasnít content to focus his seemingly boundless energies and undeniable genius solely on purely scientific pursuits. Blessed with an incisive and inventive mind as well as with an exceptional instinct for practical applications, Ivan was always thinking beyond the laboratory walls and the pages of learned journals. In his mind, discovery should equal innovation and should have practical uses. One such innovation was and is Degree Navigator, a software product he created and developed and which nicely combines art and science for extremely practical purposes. Today, Degree Navigator is widely used by more than a million people here and in universities throughout the world as a curriculum planning and management tool for students.
If Ivan was deservedly known as a top-notch scientist, in recent years he also displayed remarkable entrepreneurial flair, a talent and trait that I can admire without reservation since I, too, have had some experience dabbling in the private sector. His work in developing practical applications for eventual public use led to the creation of Decision Academic Graphics (DAG), a dynamic and successful software company that has attracted clients around the world.
In short, though we mourn and grieve Ivanís passing, it is important that we also celebrate his remarkable achievements and that we remember him as a bright and shining star and as a source of inspiration for all of us gathered here today.