Bruce Carmichael, the deputy dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science, who was known for his dedication to Yale and his sense of humor, died in his sleep at his New Haven home Sunday night. He was 63 years old.
Carmichael’s cause of death was unknown Monday, said Jack Beecher, a close friend of Carmichael’s for more than 20 years. Carmichael’s wife, Linda Degutis, a professor of surgery at the School of Public Health, could not be reached Monday.
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Carmichael was widely respected throughout the University and will be missed for his intellectual curiosity and intimate knowledge of the University, University administrators said.
“He was a loyal friend to many at Yale,” Provost Peter Salovey said in an e-mail Monday afternoon “Everyone in our office was shocked by the news [Monday] morning, and our hearts go out to his family.”
Salovey added that Carmichael was someone who had a great eye for detail and an incredible work ethic.
After receiving a master’s degree from the School of Nursing in 1982, Carmichael returned to Yale in 1983 as manager of a Yale-New Haven Hospital cardiothoracic (heart-lung) and ear, nose and throat patient care unit, according to his curriculum vitae. Drawing on his bachelor’s degree in architecture, he went on to hold various senior University positions in facilities and development planning. After serving as assistant provost for science and technology from 2003 to 2005 and associate provost for science and technology from 2005 to 2008, Carmichael transferred to the School of Engineering & Applied Science, where he held the position of deputy dean for academic administration.
“We were tremendously lucky to have him over here,” said Kyle Vanderlick, dean of the Engineering School. “He knew that engineering [at Yale] was poised to reach new heights,” she said.
Vanderlick added that despite his relatively short time at the Engineering School, Carmichael had a tremendous impact on the school’s future.
Carmichael’s exceptional administrative skills and commitment to the University were matched by his intellectual curiosity and sense of humor, several of his colleagues said.
“[Carmichael] was a thoughtful, meticulous intellectual and principle-centered man who cared deeply about the University,” said Beecher, the senior director of business operations for professional schools and academic support. Beecher said he and Carmichael were part of a small reading group and would frequently share opinions on books and philosophy.
“We always had good laughs,” added Deputy Provost for Science and Technology Steven Girvin, with whom Carmichael had a close working relationship. Despite the complicated issues that would often arise in the Provost’s Office, Girvin said Carmichael was always able to maintain a light-hearted attitude. Carmichael laughed even when the joke was on him, his friends said.
Beecher described a meeting of departmental chairs in which a female colleague playfully announced that she had a solution to any problems the other department chairs might have.
“She stood up and unbuttoned her cardigan,” Beecher said. “And underneath, she was wearing a T-shirt with the words ‘Ask Bruce’ printed on it. It absolutely brought down the house.”
When Carmichael left his associate provost position in 2008, his colleagues donned fake beards and bald caps to match Carmichael’s distinctive appearance — a prank Carmichael found hilarious, Beecher recalled.
Colleagues also said Carmichael was an avid outdoorsman with a passion for hiking and sailing. Beecher said Carmichael cherished his Scottish heritage (he held both American and British citizenship) and took regular trips to Scotland, where he loved to hike. Carmichael was known to play the bagpipe occasionally and don a traditional kilt for University events, Beecher added.
“[Carmichael] introduced me to the wonderful world of single-malt Scotches,” Vanderlick added. “He was an absolute connoisseur.”
Carmichael earned a bachelor’s degree in building construction in 1968 and one in architecture in 1969, both from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In 1970, he obtained a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Michigan. In 1990, he received a master’s in public administration from the University of New Haven, and four years later he received a doctorate of science in management systems from the same university.
In addition to his wife, Linda, Carmichael is survived by his son, Ryan, and his mother, brother and daughter-in-law.
A memorial service is planned for Saturday, Feb. 6 at 1 p.m. in Battell Chapel.