ASU remembers literature scholar 'Skip' Brack, Jr.

November 15, 2012

University celebrates life of professor emeritus

ASU Professor Emeritus O M “Skip” Brack, Jr. was a man whose tireless literary contributions and good-natured spirit will long be revered. The highly skilled bibliographer passed away Nov. 8, 2012. Download Full Image

After teaching at the University of Iowa from 1965-73, where he directed the Iowa Center for Textual Studies, Brack headed out west to Arizona State. As a professor at ASU, Brack taught the science of bibliography. Along the way, he mentored several students, directing 36 dissertations and 27 theses to completion. Brack’s students showed their appreciation when they nominated him for the ASU Alumni Association Faculty Achievement Award in 1991, and the ASU Graduate College Outstanding Mentor Award in 2000.

“When I chaired the English department, Skip was one of our most prolific and respected international scholars,” said fellow ASU professor, Neal Lester. “He was also an excellent department colleague and professional citizen. I will always remember his steadfast support of my leadership as chair and later as dean. Many will miss his great stories and his robust energy.”

Brack was the founding editor responsible for the “Works of Tobias Smollett,” University of Georgia Press, and served as textual editor for that edition, critically editing several of the texts. He also edited a collection of essays on Smollett that included an essay written by Brack himself, in which he clearly establishes Smollett’s authorship of “The Memoirs of a Lady of Quality” for the first time. He has written an additional ten essays on Smollett, as well as essays on other aspects of eighteenth-century literature, bibliography, and textual criticism.

An authority on the life and writings of Samuel Johnson, in 2009 Brack was honored by being asked to arrange and curate an exhibition, “Samuel Johnson, Professional Author,” for the Henry E. Huntington Library in San Marino, California to celebrate the tercentenary of Johnson’s birth. Besides providing an introduction and historical annotations for the first full-length biography of Johnson, Sir John Hawkins' "The Life of Samuel Johnson," Brack has also written more than thirty essays on him for scholarly journals or for keepsakes for The Johnsonians and the Samuel Johnson Society of Southern California.

A natural collaborator who enjoyed the fellowship involved in working with others, Brack partnered with several colleagues over the years to publish works like volumes 5 and 6 of The Piozzi Letters, with Edward and Lillian Bloom, and the final volumes of the Yale Edition of Samuel Johnson, with Robert DeMaria, Jr.

Called “Skipper” by his parents to differentiate him from his father who was also named O M, Brack was known as “Skip” to his many friends and associates in his adult years. He received his bachelor’s degree from Baylor University in 1960 and later, a doctorate from the University of Texas, Austin.

In addition to hundreds of colleagues and students, Brack is survived by his wife Cynthia, his son Matthew, his grandson Jakob, his brother Richard, and his nieces and nephews. A memorial mass, officiated by the Reverend Canon Mark Sutherland, will be held at 11 a.m., Nov. 17, at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 100 West Roosevelt, Phoenix.

Memorial donations may be sent to The Huntington Library; Attention: Cris Lutz, Library Fund – O M “Skip” Brack, Jr.; 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA, 91108.

Emma Greguska,
ASU media relations


Lisa Robbins

Editor/publisher, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


Applied math grad tracks business investments for US Census Bureau

November 15, 2012

College students and their parents often wonder how effectively degree programs translate into related jobs. For Sergey Adamenko, who received a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics for the life and social sciences last May, the transition has been seamless.

Hired shortly after graduating, Adamenko currently works in Washington, D.C, as a statistical analyst for the United States Census Bureau. He considers the position a solid first step on the ladder to success and cites ASU's transdisciplinary paradigm as a major factor in preparing him for this opportunity. Download Full Image

“While at ASU, I tried a few different majors but preferred the applied mathematics for the life and social sciences program from the School of Human Evolution and Social Change over traditional mathematics or statistics programs due to its flexibility in math education,” he says. “The program enables a student to tailor his or her math education with a variety of classes that fit one's interests or career path.”

The curriculum is geared toward teaching students to use mathematical principles to tackle real-world issues, like pandemics and natural resource management, by blending physical, computational, social and life sciences. The program promotes an appreciation of mathematics’ role in economics, the sciences, engineering and, particularly salient to Adamenko’s case, business and government.

Adamenko is officially a survey statistician, which means that he gages how American businesses invest their capital. “Some of my daily tasks include receiving surveys from the companies, reaching out to companies to gather additional information and processing and analyzing data to ensure consistency and accuracy in reporting,” he explains.

Adamenko, a veteran, was hired as part of the U.S Census Bureau's new corporate hiring process. “After my military service, working for the government as a civilian was always an intriguing option for me,” he mentions.

As a professional in what is arguably the locus of world power, he realizes how his academic career prepared him for where he is now, as well as where he plans to go. “I personally was enthralled with statistics, and the applied mathematics program allowed me to take a number of statistics courses with emphases in life sciences, social sciences and computer sciences,” he says. “My degree has provided me with the mathematical background needed for my current position, and I believe that my diverse education will open doors for me in the future, such as advancing to the next level of my career as a mathematical statistician with the Census Bureau.”

For students wishing to work for the government, Adamenko recommends the following: graduate education, a strong academic record, diverse experiences, an internship with a government agency or military experience.

The School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in applied mathematics for the life and social sciences.

Isaac Gilbert,
School of Human Evolution and Social Change

Rebecca Howe

Communications Specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change