Professor honored at memorial

Hannah Ash

Friends, students and colleagues gathered to honor the life of Thomas D. Kotulak at a memorial service held in University Center room 127 on Saturday, June 15.

Kotulak was associate professor of political science and adviser to the IU Southeast chapter of the Student Civil Liberties Union. Kotulak passed away on June 11, 2013 after suffering a heart attack. The packets of tissues scattered throughout the room were soon put to good use as those who knew Kotulak laughed and cried together.

Throughout the informal service, attendants took turns sharing stories, memories and lessons of the professor.

“He always fostered debates and conversation. He inspired curiosity about the law,” said Adam Dickey, IUS alumnus.

Michael Day, IUS personal counselor, opened the service by inviting attendants to share stories of Kotulak.

“It is good to celebrate and come back together when something like this happens. To grieve together, to remember and to celebrate the life that impacted our lives,” Day said.

Participants explained how Kotulak affected their lives, and many  spoke about a group or “gaggle” of students that regularly followed Kotulak around after class in hopes of picking the professor’s brain for more information. Attendants also shared laughs about Kotulak’s trademark sweater vests and matching ball caps.

“I always wondered if he bought them together in a set,” said Student Government Association President Stephon Moore.

Linda Morton, a 2011 IUS alumna, said Kotulak was passionate about teaching and the subjects he taught about.

“He had a passion for the Constitution and all that encompasses,”she said.

Students spoke about how animated Kotulak would become while he was lecturing. They said his face would light up and he would excitedly shake his coffee, sometimes showering students sitting in the front row.

IUS alumna Krysta Curl said when she learned Kotulak had passed away she felt as if her father had just died. She said she wants to honor his life by encouraging others the way Kotulak encouraged her.

“I look for those opportunities for me to support someone and encourage someone. Can I do that with an open mind and an open heart like Doc’ did? I think those are the ways I can honor him,” Curl said.

As former Civil Liberties Union President, Moore worked closely with Kotulak.

“It is impossible to miss the impact that he has had,” Moore said. “I wouldn’t be on this life path right now– have the aspirations I have now without him.”

A group of students and alumni are organizing a memorial scholarship fund in Kotulak’s name. For more information, contact Linda Morton at



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