In Memoriam: Faculty and Staff

The University mourns the passing of six members of the University community:

Donita D’Amico ‘72, professor emerita of nursing, died April 9, 2023. She was 81. D’Amico, who graduated from Paterson General Hospital School of Nursing, began her career there as a registered nurse in the operating room. After graduating with a bachelor of science degree in nursing from William Paterson in 1972, she taught at Passaic County Technical and Vocational High School, where she was coordinator of its practical nurse program. She later earned a master’s degree in nursing education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Professor D’Amico joined the William Paterson nursing faculty in 1977, teaching a wide variety of courses and serving as a clinical supervisor in areas including medical-surgical adult acute care. The co-author of Health and Physical Assessment in Nursing with her WP colleague, Professor Colleen Barbarito, she served as president of the University’s Iota Alpha chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, the international honor society of nursing. Professor D’Amico retired in 2016 after 39 years on campus.

Aleksander Kecojevic, associate professor of public health, died December 9, 2022. He was 52. Professor Kecojevic joined the University’s public health faculty in 2015. Early in his tenure, he worked diligently to develop support for a smoke-free campus with all WP constituencies including faculty, staff, students, and administrators. This initiative resulted in the campus officially becoming tobacco- and smoke-free in January 2022. A graduate of the University of Western Ontario, Canada with a bachelor of science degree in biology, he earned a master of public health from Johns Hopkins University and a doctorate in public health from Drexel University. His research, which included grant funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the American Cancer Society, and the New Jersey Department of Health, was focused on health disparities, social determinants of health, substance use and prevention, and LGBT health, and resulted in numerous journal articles as well as presentations and lectures at national and international conferences. He was a member of the Faculty Senate and other campus committees. Professor Kecojevic, who was born in Bosnia, in the former Yugoslavia, became a U.S. citizen in 2017.

Alberto Montare, retired professor of psychology, died on November 16, 2022. He was 89. A graduate of City College of New York, he earned a doctorate in experimental psychology from Yeshiva University in 1970. Professor Montare taught at the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education for 10 years before accepting a position at William Paterson University in 1980, where he established one of the world’s first human learning labs, with experimental research focused on a variety of topics including human reaction time, discrimination-reversal learning, and human consciousness. Throughout his career, he presented his research at national and international conferences and in numerous journal articles. Professor Montare retired from teaching in 2016 but continued to write and develop his theories on the human brain and its place in the cosmos until his death.

Gladys Nussenbaum, retired professor of languages and cultures, died on March 13, 2023. She was 93. A graduate of Adelphi College, she earned an MA from the University of Iowa and began her career as a Spanish teacher at Fieldston High School in Riverdale, New York, where she remained for three decades. After earning her doctorate from New York University, Professor Nussenbaum joined the William Paterson faculty in 1980, where she directed the bilingual/ESL program. During her tenure, she received two U.S. Department of Education grants to train bilingual/ESL teachers. In 1981, she and late WP Professor Emerita Laura Aitken launched the Annual Bilingual/ESL Conference for P-12 teachers, now in its 42nd year. Following her retirement from the University in 1992, having studied at and earned certification from the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research in New York City, Professor Nussenbaum began a new career as a psychotherapist and counselor, working in a number of mental health centers in New York and New Jersey and developing her own counseling practice, aimed primarily at the Spanish-speaking community

Theresa (Moshier) Ross ‘80, retired senior writer/web coordinator in the Department of Marketing and Public Relations, died on April 18, 2023. She was 68. A 1980 graduate of William Paterson with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, she began her career as an advertising copywriter with a local ad agency before building a successful freelance copywriting career for clients including Prentice Hall, Citibank, and Institutional Investor, among others. Ross joined the University in 1996, where she used her talents as an interviewer, writer, editor, and marketing professional to promote and publicize her alma mater. Her stories were featured in numerous publications, including eFocus, In Focus, WP News, WP Perspectives, and from its inception, WP Magazine, for which she wrote dozens of feature stories and alumni profiles since its establishment in 1998. She was among the first University employees to work with computer programs focused on website design. Ross retired from the University in 2022 after 26 years on campus.

Gurdial Mal Sharma, professor emeritus of chemistry, died on December 9, 2022. He was 92. Professor Sharma, who obtained his PhD in chemistry from Punjab University in India in 1960, began his academic career in the United States in 1965 as a research scientist at Lamont Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University. He later headed the Chemical and Biological Oceanography Department of the New York Ocean Science Laboratory, where he was the principal investigator on several projects, including the PCB levels of fish in Long Island waters. Professor Sharma joined the William Paterson chemistry faculty in 1980; his research focused on projects related to vitamin B12-binding proteins and other biologically active molecules of marine organisms. He published and presented papers on organic chemistry, biochemistry, analytical chemistry and chemical/biological oceanography, and his research projects were supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, National Sea Grant Agency, and other private foundations. He retired from William Paterson in 2015.