Dr. Tyseer Aboulnasr
Dean, Faculty of Engineering, University of Ottawa
(Speech transcribed and slightly edited)
When Dr. Rival joined the Faculty of Engineering four and a half years ago when Computer Science moved in with us, he spent the bulk of that time away. For the last three years he was away, running his company, and I remember very much that I thought it was extremely intriguing that somebody who worked in such a highly theoretical area--so theoretical that most of the people even in his field don't begin to understand what is going on--managed to understand it, to contribute to it and to push the limits of the field of knowledge in that discipline. And to make it even more impressive, he managed to take it into a tool that is so trivially easy to use that you are tempted to not recognize the amount of theory that goes behind it. I always found that to be extremely intriguing.
And I know that he had a hard time balancing his commitments to the university with his commitment to DAG. I had a very long conversation with him over the last summer and one thing I remember telling him is: "You know, whether you come back to the university or you decide to continue your work at DAG, either way we are going to continue claiming you as part of our success. Either way you're going to be one of us and we will see you as a success for the whole university."
When we heard the news it was a huge shock because we were having a lot of discussions with him recently, and I know that he felt that there was a lot more to be done at DAG and that had a lot of pressure on him. And it's really strange how all of that doesn't matter so very quickly. What he wanted to do at DAG, what he wanted to do at the university, somehow don't matter at all now. What does matter is the void that he's going to leave with his family and his friends and his colleagues.
All I could say is that our prayers are with you. Find the strength in your hearts to accept it. It is a shock. I know that we haven't accepted it yet. It's going to take you a long time. On behalf of all my colleagues, the faculty, I just pray that you find that strength to be able to accept what happened and to live with peace in it.