[KB] Death of Trevor Melia

Clarke Rountree rountrj at uah.edu
Tue Feb 21 13:46:29 EST 2017

Dear Burkeans:

I am passing along the sad news, which I just learned, that our friend and
colleague Trevor Melia has died. Richard Vatz posted this memoriam to him

Richard E. Vatz (submitter), rvatz at towson.eduu

In Memoriam: Dr. Trevor Melia

Trevor Melia:  The Finest Professor and Mentor I have known

Trevor Melia, University of Pittsburgh,  was simply the finest professor
and mentor I have known in my lengthy career.  His knowledge and writing
were impressive, but I shall leave it to more scholarly admirers to reflect
on them.

Personally, I learned more from him regarding substance and character than
all of my other undergraduate and graduate professors combined, if you
subtract from the group the wonderful professor and teacher, Robert P.
Newman, also from Pitt.

One of Trevor's key qualities, perhaps the key quality, was that he was
unthreatened by disagreement.  He was on the left, and I was on the right,
but he always found our differences of perspective interesting, and he
loved to debate with me.  We had endless dialogues about points of
political dispute, but they were always meetings of the minds.

His classes were characterized by his unthreatened nature, with help and
evaluations unaffected by student disagreement.  His sense of humor, always
understated and as subtle and clever and brilliant as his lectures, always
made the class time pass in a wink.

When I wrote the article "The Myth of the Rhetorical Situation" as a
graduate student, Trevor celebrated the publication, and we discussed how
his influence and teachings had informed and motivated me to write the
position I wrote.

My fellow graduate students and I were in consistent discussions at Pitt
about the strengths and weaknesses of our professors.  I heard profound
disagreements in their evaluations, but literally all of them cited Trevor
as the individual who helped them grow in the field and treated them
fairly.  This was a period in which unfair treatment of students by
professors went unpunished, even undiscouraged.  The only motivation to be
a principled professor was its intrinsic value.  And Trevor was also the
most principled professor I have known.

Pitt hired a young professor at one point, brilliant but abrasive, but
Trevor fearlessly became he closest friend in the department.  That
friendship saved the professor for a long time, and Trevor never thought
twice about it.

Trevor was the closest professor to me, but I was not the closest student
to him.  His knowledge, decency and availability attracted the very best
and second best of students and colleagues, and the sociology around him,
with few exceptions, represented the best, brightest and highest integrity
members of the field.

He was always available to help me throughout my career.

Brilliant, unthreatened and fair - a very rare combination of qualities,
and Trevor Melia was the exemplar of those attributes.

Dr. Clarke Rountree
Professor and Interim Chair of Communication Arts
Associate Dean for Recruitment and Outreach for the College of Arts,
Humanities, and Social Sciences
342 Morton Hall
University of Alabama in Huntsville
Huntsville, AL  35899
clarke.rountree at uah.edu
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