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Post your message of encouragement. support. love. hope. to Rob Lue

97 Guest posts

James Nickoloff James Nickoloff

I had the privilege of knowing Robert Lue at two important junctures of his life--while he was a high school student at St. George's College in Kingston, Jamaica and while he was an undergraduate at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. Robert was among the top students at both Jesuit schools, but even more importantly, he was a wonderful human being. It's clear this continued at Harvard--and then some! What a terrible loss for all of us--and especially for his spouse.

Alison Garber Alison Garber

I am so grateful for Rob and all that he did for the communities of which he was a part. I was a mentor for a long time at the Harvard Ed Portal, and I distinctly remember his many visits to the Ed Portal to check in on the students' progress and create a warm atmosphere for parents and mentors. That experience at the Ed Portal led me to teaching high school biology. I am often inspired by the project-based learning Rob advocated for in classes like LS1A and try to incorporate it into my own work. Thank you, Rob, for putting a creative and accessible science education front and center in your work. I will try to pay it forward by doing the same for my students.
-Ali Garber (Harvard Class of 2019)

Mary Lee Ledbetter Mary Lee Ledbetter

How sorry I am to hear of Rob's death! I first met Rob when, as a first-year Holy Cross Religious Studies major, he enrolled in my upper-division Cell Biology course. His success in the course and his clearly imaginative approach to the subject persuaded me to invite him to join my group of undergraduate researchers, where he worked with me for the next three years, studying the role of intracellular calcium in regulating cell-to-cell communication. The following year he worked at Brandeis in the lab of Lawrence Wangh, a colleague of mine, where he made important improvements to their procedures for imaging and photography, even as early as the 1980's. Since then our paths crossed occasionally as we both became involved in STEM Education initiatives. He far surpassed his teacher in his accomplishments. I am proud to have known him.

Cole Scanlon Cole Scanlon

Rob was continually generous, whether with his time, his genuine care, or his easy laugh and quick wit. I first met Rob when he kindly made time for an undergrad (me) to discuss the possibility of him supporting a project which quickly evolved into a partnership and cherished friendship. I found it difficult to be in a bad mood around Rob, who seemed to be perpetually soaking in - and appreciating - all that life had to offer. He was one of those people whose eyes would light up when interested and excited. But he seemed to always be in this state — whether talking about a new movie, a menu item, bright sneakers, a work of art, New York City, or a way to make education more accessible. I admire this quality but, even more, will never forget how he treated people with the most genuine kindness I have ever known. You are deeply missed Rob…

Cole Scanlon

Toru Iiyoshi Toru Iiyoshi

Dear Rob,

I cannot thank you enough for your friendship and colleagueship. We shared many (good and bad) ideas and laughs together on various occasions. We called ourselves "the dragon boys" as we were both born in the same year of the dragon. Our passion for open education for a better world is mutual and endless.

When you visited us in Kyoto, you and I were walking around, for hours, in the antique shop area in the city where you fell in love with a beautiful bronze monkey (it was definitely a destiny!) and you brought it back with you to Boston. Later, when I visited you in Boston, I was happy to see the bronze monkey again in your office.

My colleagues and I were so much looking forward to having you as a keynote speaker again at our national conference in Kyoto next March... For our shared memory, here is the great keynote talk you gave us at Kyoto University in 2015.

Along with many of your family members, good friends and colleagues, the bronze monkey and I will miss you so much. Thank you and rest in peace, Rob.

Toru Iiyoshi
Kyoto University

François Taddei François Taddei

“To our Mentor, from grateful mentees” : Rob as the first Mentor Honoris Causa

The loss of Rob broke my heart and left me speechless. Devastated by such tragedy, I cannot even imagine the sorrow of Alain and those that loved him. For me Rob was much more than a colleague, he was a friend and an elder brother.

In my eyes, Rob embodied Mentor, the mythical greek character that was the first mentor. As Rob knew, Athena the goddess of wisdom and science had incarnated in Mentor to help Telemachus who was exploring the world to find Odysseus.

Rob had such a dedication to his students that he set an example for every professor that had the chance of being inspired by him. Always with a benevolent smile, he mentored learners of all ages exploring knowledge. They will all remember him : disfavored teens at the Harvard Education portal, undergrads in his biology classes and during the biopolis summer schools in Paris, online learners in HarvardX MOOC or in his latest project LabXchange, as well as PhD students and colleagues in his department, the Bok center or the CRI.

I believe all those who knew Rob will miss him but I feel that even the learners that did not have that chance will miss his energy and vision of a future where they could learn to care for oneself, others and the planet to face the challenges of our times and reach UN sustainable development goals.

I wonder how we could be as creative as Rob and contribute to his legacy. Titles of Doctor Honoris Causa have been created to honor great contributions to academic life. I feel that we should create a new title to foster the legacy of Rob, Mentor Honoris Causa, for mentors like him that are contributing to empower all learners that have the chance to benefit from their wisdom.

The world may well have lost a reincarnation of Mentor but I hope that with all those that miss Rob we will be able to contribute to his legacy.

François Taddei

PS Who could deliver Mentor Honoris Causa title should be discussed and criteria defined but mentees willing to honour their mentors should be involved. Places in which mentors contributed could decide to do so while they are alive or create a “pantheon” to honour their memory and MOOCs to document their achievements. We could synchronize real world ceremonies around the international day of education (Jan 24), during the learning planet festival, to maximize international visibility of mentors whose impact scaled. Next January, we could start celebrating such mentors with Rob, who empowered millions of learners through online education and was UNESCO chair for his amazing work.

Liew Sze Pei Liew Sze Pei

Dear Prof. Rob Lue,

We haven't met before, but I know you through the course "Higher Education Teaching Certificate" via the initiative of HarvardX. I would like to say thank you for setting up HarvardX and became its faculty director because HarvardX has given valuable learning opportunities to the learners around the world. I am from Malaysia and I do not have much opportunity to receive good quality education locally unless I further my study in oversea. However, financially, I could not afford to study oversea, especially at a top university like Harvard University. Through HarvardX, I have the access to the course at Harvard University with minimum fees and I have learned a lot of new knowledge from the tutors, course materials and my course mates. I am applying the knowledge and skills which I have learned in this course to my daily teaching so that I can help my students to reach their maximum potential in their studies. Thank you for giving these learning opportunities to us so that we know how beautiful learning is. Thank you for letting us know that everyone has the right for quality education regardless of poverty, race, country and other limitations. Education should be accessible to everyone who is keen to learn. Rest in peace, Prof. You will be missed.

With love,
Liew Sze Pei (Felicia)
Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities
Department of Education
Tunku Abdul Rahman University College
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
[email protected], [email protected]

Monet J. Lee Monet J. Lee


I will not forget the fall of 2015 where you walked down the rightwing stairs of LS1A and first introduced yourself to our class. You immediately commanded the attention of all of us with your stylish suit, poise, and energy. I remember thinking to myself, ‘this guy is snazzy!’

You captured the hearts of all of us in Paris the summer of 2016. Despite the limited amount of financial aid offered by Harvard for summer programs, I was told that you and Alain pre-emptively went out of your way to make this possible to every single student in our program so that it would not be a barrier. My family and I remain grateful for you, Alain, and Harvard for allowing me this remarkable experience.

It was evident that you were a remarkable visionary. In Paris, we even liked to mimic the way you said, “Ideation!” – because you would say it with such life and conviction. In addition to the summer program, you went out of your way to host weekly movie screenings and discussions regarding the future of technology and artificial intelligence.

I always admired how cosmopolitan and empathetic you were. We then-19-year-olds, while running amok in Le Marais, would always hope to run into you and Alain. Whenever we got lucky, you would always be stylishly dressed, with the best recommendations for food. You once sat us down and introduced us to a special craft beer infused with orange. You told me to stay away from the long island iced teas.

I remain amazed by your academic brilliance and how you have touched so many people around you. I will continue to think of you, Alain, and the beautiful example you have set for others in the years to come.

Monet Lee
Harvard College '19


Dear Rob,

You were a friend, a model, and a mentor to many of us. I had the privilege to work with you for the Summer School, three years in a row - in 2017, 2018, and 2019: so many memories come to mind, from visionary exchanges on the future of education to elements of mixology and horror movies. It was always amazing.

You were brilliant. But you were much more than that: you were a man of justice, passionate and generous. You inspired people, made them happier, smarter and you paid attention to them. This made you a very special and loved friend.

There was only one Rob - I am already missing our discussions. You will remain in the heart and soul of many of us - not least here in Paris.

Rest in peace,

Lauren Salters Gillenwater Lauren Salters Gillenwater

My deepest condolences to the friends, family, students, and colleagues of Rob. Rob was an integral part of my collegiate experience at Holy Cross. I shared a meal with him almost every day where I experienced his humor, intelligence and warmth. He always made me smile and laugh with his quick wit. In addition to all his academic accolades, my wish is that Rob be remembered for his unconditional acceptance of an individual and his passion for social justice. May you rest in peace. You will be sorely missed.

Lauren Salters Gillenwater, HC ‘86

Vladimir Denic Vladimir Denic

I learned how to strike my own balance between content and flare by watching you teach MCB54 with me. Those years were a fragile period in my academic life and your support (often against your better judgment) of my misguided ideas meant a lot (and yes, I later realized on my own that those two cat GTPaws were not a successful mechanistic analogy for SRP interactions with its receptor). Oh and how we both adored some of the same things and places outside of work and mostly in LA. So as long as my flamboyant H. Lorenzo kicks are still kicking and as long as my Voltaggio octopus tentacles are still curling, you will always be there with me. xo v

Bushra Taha Bushra Taha

Rob Lue was the kind of professor and educator whom you encounter once and never forget. I am grateful to have been his student during my undergraduate time at Harvard College and hope to honor his memory in my own attempts in education.

May you rest easy, as you have left a beautiful imprint of your humanity on this earth.

Bushra W. Taha
Harvard College, Class of 2006
Harvard Medical School, Class of 2013
HHMI Research Program Alumna

P.J. Boardman P.J. Boardman

I wanted to send my condolences to the family and loved ones of Rob Lue as I was so sad to hear of his passing. Rob was a friend of mine from Holy Cross and was always such an intelligent and vibrant force of nature to all his friends. He had an incredible sense of humor, sharp wit and was such a great friend. Our paths would cross later in life in our careers as well in the education community and I was so impressed to see his many contributions and his thought leadership. My heart goes out to his family and loved ones. Rob will be missed, and I am certainly grateful to have had him as a friend.

norman williams norman williams

I was stunned to hear the bad news as I did not know of his illness. I guess he wanted to keep it private and I gather that it went fast. I now understand the avatar with the "clown nose" on Facebook last year...sigh.

Robert (Bobby to family and Rob to work colleagues) was one of, if not my best pal in high school, especially in the upper forms. I spent many days at his house with him and his family back in the late 1970s and vividly recall watching "Affirmed" win the Triple crown at his home.In addition to school work, we would speak about music, pets (bird/fish/dogs), politics and tech gadgets plus all the things that were de mode back then. He and his Mom taught me how to whip up some basic Chinese signature dishes. I don't know if many here will know that his father used to own a legendary Chinese restaurant in Kingston back then (Joongwah). Robert always spoke proudly of his older brother Chris who went off to study architecture at IIT in the US. I greatly appreciate having known his entire family and they have a special place in my heart. For that I feel blessed.

Last time I saw him in person was in 2008 at Harvard SQ, and communication with him has been very regrettably sporadic since then. I tried to meet up with him on a Boston trip late 2019 and at the end of Feb 2020, but unfortunately he was out of town. Still, I feel grateful for meeting up in 2008, 22 years after meeting him in the same spot in 1986 when passing through Boston on my way home from Montreal. We had enough time then to explore downtown Boston for a few hours and catch up. He was starting the Phd program then. Robert was very well liked back in high school as he was very approachable and always willing to help. He also had a well developed sense of humour and a warm smile that put you at ease. He was a VERY talented student and disciplined worker with clear goals set for his life. We took Zoology and Chemistry classes together in the 6th form (2 years) and were in the same 4th and 5th form classes. I am acutely aware that the St Georges College Class of 1980 (plus many in '79 and '81) are saddened by his unexpected demise. We all feel that bit diminished by the passing of this great Georgian. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.

Robert is gone, but will never be forgotten by all the people he touched in his life journey as he managed to spread some joy and light to all he interacted with. To his remaining family and loved ones, I extend my greatest condolence and offer a warm embrace and comfort for you in this trying time. Farewell Sir Robert (brother and knight of St. Georges) are missed and well loved. Norman Williams

Erin Goodman Erin Goodman

Thank you, Rob, for your outside-the-box thinking, constant dedication to fairness, and passion for the student experience. We worked together in a small team for the better part of a year to implement a major international travel grant for undergraduates, in a time of uncertainty. Rob's leadership motivated us all to strive to rise to the occasion, and his positive energy made the challenge one of the most positive experiences of my career. Many lifetimes lived in one too-short existence on this earth.