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RMU Mourns Passing of Beloved Professor

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pittsburgh -- The entire Robert Morris University community was saddened to learn Monday morning of the passing of Rex Crawley, professor of communication, who died after dealing with complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 49.

Crawley was an outstanding professor and inspiring mentor whose impact extended far beyond RMU’s campus in Moon Township. As co-director of the Black Male Leadership Development Institute, a program he ran in conjunction with the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, Crawley had a profound and lasting impact on hundreds of young men throughout the Pittsburgh region.

Most recently, Crawley was the endowed chair and executive director of the Uzuri Think Tank, a research center dedicated toRex Crawley identifying the factors shared by successful African American men and developing models of success for others to follow.

Crawley’s wife, Daria, is an associate professor of management at Robert Morris University, and the couple has two young sons, Xavier and Vaughan.

“Rex was a dear friend and colleague who will be missed greatly, as he was such an integral part of the RMU family and served in so many important roles at Robert Morris. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family,” said RMU President Gregory G. Dell’Omo.

Crawley grew up on Sherman Ave. in Steubenville, Ohio, where he was raised in the Zion Temple Pentecostal Church. As a child he loved the beach and the Jersey shore, and he looked forward to spending summers in Newark, N.J., with his Aunt Grace. He loved to write and create cartoon books for his little sister, and when he grew older he rode a motorcycle.

He attended Garfield Elementary and Grant Middle schools, and was a drummer in the Steubenville Big Red High School marching band. He continued his musical career in the famed Ohio University Marching 110. Crawley attended Ohio University because of the influence of his older sister, and for a time they were students there together. At Ohio University he joined the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and was also a resident assistant and later resident director.

During the early 1990s, Crawley moved to New York State and Washington, D.C., pursuing a career in public administration. He came to RMU in 1999, not long after he earned his Ph.D. in intercultural communication from Ohio University, where he also earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, in political science and public administration respectively.

Crawley was also assistant dean of the School of Communications and Information Systems and chair of the university’s Council on Institutional Equity. He was an active member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, serving in a variety of leadership roles, and was on the boards of the Community College of Allegheny County, the August Wilson Arts and Cultural Center, and the National Marrow Donors Program.

Crawley’s numerous leadership positions at the university included head of the Department of Communication, and he was a driving force in making RMU a more inclusive campus.

“Few of us will leave as profound a professional and personal legacy as Rex has. His commitment to the highest academic values and his nurturing of all students stand as a model of behavior for everyone,” said RMU Provost David Jamison, who was formerly dean of the School of Communications and Information Systems.

Jamison cited, among other things, Crawley’s role in helping students to launch the RMU student newspaper, The Sentry, and his work as a faculty in the university’s doctoral program in information systems and communication.

“This is a huge loss to the RMU community. Rex will be mourned by everyone, at every level of the university,” said Barbara Levine, current dean of the School of Communications and Information Systems. “We all benefitted much from his wisdom, professionalism, and guidance.”

A funeral service took place Saturday, Nov. 30, at the Calvary Church in Steubenville. A celebration of Crawley's life will take place Feb. 7 in the Sewall Center Arena at RMU's Moon Township campus.

Robert Morris University, founded in 1921, is a private, four-year institution with an enrollment of approximately 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university offers 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs. An estimated 22,000 alumni live and work in western Pennsylvania.