Obituary for Bruce W. Selleck PhD
Bruce Warren Selleck
Thomas A. Bartlett Chair and Professor of Geology, Colgate University
Bruce Selleck, beloved husband, father, brother, and geologist died unexpectedly but peacefully in his sleep July 31, 2017. A celebration of his life will be held at the Colgate University Chapel on October 14th at 3:30 p.m.
Born September 30, 1949, in Potsdam, NY, Bruce was the son of Fred W. and Helen Spanik Selleck. Raised on the family dairy farm at Selleck’s Corners, he began his formal education in a one-room schoolhouse, going on to graduate from Colton-Pierrepont Central School in 1967, where he played soccer, basketball and baseball. Receiving an Alfred P. Sloan Scholarship to Colgate University, he played varsity soccer and graduated with an AB, High Honors in Geology in 1971.
While in high school, Bruce was a camp counselor at 4-H Camp Overlook, on Indian Lake, where he learned to guide young people and share his love of the natural environment, particularly the Adirondack Mountains. He also met his wife, Nancy Barlow ‘76, a fellow counselor from Canton, the week before he enrolled and began his 50-year relationship with both Nancy and Colgate. They were married right after graduation in 1971.
Bruce received funding for his MS and PhD from the University of Rochester, after which Bruce and Nancy returned to Colgate in 1974. Bruce's teaching specialties included stratigraphy and sedimentation, marine paleoecology, sedimentary petrology and hydrogeology. One of his great loves was to teach the basic skills of mapping for field work in the Adirondacks, Alaska, Australia and the great National Parks of the western United States.
He served as Associate Dean of the Faculty (1988-90), as Provost and Dean of the Faculty (1990-94) and as Interim Provost and Dean of the Faculty (2011-12), as Director of the Picker Institute for Interdisciplinary Science, and as Director of the Upstate Institute. He led both the Australia and Wales study groups and served as advisor to a range of varsity athletic teams, clubs, and Greek organizations, as well as longtime representative to the Patriot League.
Bruce saw his students as part of his extended family, caring deeply for both their academic and personal development while also expecting the best of them. His passion for geology inspired many Colgate graduates to pursue careers in both academia and industry. Bruce received the Colgate Alumni Corporation Distinguished Teaching Award (1998), the AAUP Teacher of the Year Award (2006) and the Sidney J. and Florence Felten French Prize (2010) in recognition of his outstanding teaching.
Bruce cared for the Hamilton community, working with the Village to protect its water supply, and most recently, gain a natural gas line; cheering on Hamilton Central School sports teams (even after his daughters graduated); writing articles for the local paper and volunteering as a referee for AYSO.
Just beginning an academic leave to travel, write and coordinate his research projects this year, he was also planning an active retirement, enjoying the wildlife at their home on Craine Lake, playing more “noontime hoops”, and continuing his academic and public service activities, serving on the boards of the Adirondack Research Consortium, as President, and the Friends of Rogers Environmental Education Center, travelling, and spending more time with his two daughters and their growing families. He was proud of his daughters, Caity and Beth, both for their career progress and their choice in partners. As he once told his sister, both his daughters’ husbands had the qualities he most wanted to see: intelligence and kindness.
Bruce is survived by his loving family, wife Nancy Barlow Selleck, his daughters Caity Selleck (James Murphy) and Elizabeth Selleck Fiore (Christopher Fiore), his grandson Cooper Murphy, his sisters Linda Selleck Kershlis and Laura Selleck (John Jenkins), his sister-in-law Cindy Lawrence (Kevin Lawrence), his nephews Zachary and Adam Lawrence, as well as by cousins in the United States, Australia and Slovakia. He was predeceased by his parents, Fred and Helen Selleck, his in-laws Alton and Jean Barlow, and his brother-in-law Jack Kershlis.
In lieu of flowers, gifts in memoriam may be made to The Bruce Selleck Memorial Fund through the Advancement Office of Colgate University, Hamilton, New York or to the Friends of Rogers Environmental Education Center, Sherburne, New York.