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Former administrator dies at 75

by Sherry Fisher - June 2, 2008

Thomas Giolas, a former administrator at the University, died May 18. He was 75.

Giolas, who lived in Mansfield, joined the UConn faculty in the communication sciences department in 1968. His main research and teaching interest was in the rehabilitation of people with hearing impairments.

He became department head of communication sciences in 1975, and served in that capacity until 1984, when he was appointed director of the Research Foundation. He retired in 1997 as Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate School.

James Henkel, associate vice provost for research and graduate education, says Giolas was his mentor.

“Tom has been my role model and mentor with respect to the administrative aspects of my career,” Henkel says.

“I count my 10 years of interaction with him as among some of the best and most enjoyable of my professional life. I learned so much, not only about the technical aspects of academic leadership, but more importantly about the human aspects. I hope I can honor his memory by passing this knowledge and insight on to others in the future.”

Henkel adds, “He was always more concerned with others than he was about himself, and he had a way of making everyone he touched better for the experience. I will miss him terribly.”

Harvey Gilbert, professor emeritus of communication sciences, says when he came to UConn as head of the department, Giolas was very helpful.

“Tom was always available to steer me through University politics and to discuss faculty and governance issues,” Gilbert says.

“When he retired and I stepped down as department head, we would meet at least once a semester to catch up on what we were doing and what was happening in the department. He was a good friend and colleague and I’ll miss him.”

Giolas grew up in Gary, Ind. and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in speech pathology and audiology.

He received his doctorate in audiology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1960.

During his retirement, Giolas volunteered at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Storrs, where he immersed himself in Greek culture and history, and spoke Greek, his first language.

Giolas is survived by his wife of 48 years, Marilyn, and three children.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Thomas G. Giolas Graduate Fellowship, c/o The University of Connecticut Foundation, 3290 Alumni Drive, Unit 3206, Storrs, CT 06269, or to St. Mark’s Chapel, 42 North Eagleville Rd., Storrs, CT 06268.

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