In memory of Tom Calvert, professor emeritus

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Tom Calvert, professor emeritus of SFU’s School of Interactive Arts & Technology (SIAT), on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021.

Tom will be remembered as a trusted colleague and as a supportive and visionary leader who was instrumental in the early successes of SIAT.

“Tom was an amazing source of inspiration and leadership within SFU and SIAT,” says Carman Neustaedter, dean of the Faculty of Communication, Art & Technology. “He was a big thinker, a kind listening ear, and a friend to all he worked with. Tom will forever be a part of SIAT."

Tom earned degrees in electrical engineering from University College London (BSc), Wayne State University (MSEE) and Carnegie-Mellon University (PhD). He was hired by the SFU Department of Kinesiology (now Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology) in 1972 where he served as the chair of the department from 1975-1977. From 1977-1985, he was dean of the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies.

In 1990, Tom became the president of the Science Council of British Columbia and served as the vice-president of the Technical University of British Columbia (TechBC). He led SIAT in its transition from TechBC to SFU and he served as the school’s first director from 2002-2004.

In his 45-year career at the university, Tom held appointments in Kinesiology, Computing Science, Engineering Science, and Interactive Arts & Technology. He was also in numerous administrative roles including SFU vice-president for research and information systems from 1985 until 1990.

Tom became a professor emeritus in Kinesiology, Computing Science, and Engineering Science in 2000 and in SIAT in 2004. He left a lasting impact at SFU and continued to positively impact students after his retirement.

"Dr. Calvert was a loyal donor who supported students philanthropically through a number of student funds, including his own 'Tom Calvert Graduate Scholarship' for SIAT students," says Natalie Brenton, senior associate director of advancement.

As a researcher, Tom was most interested in computer-based tools for user interaction with multimedia systems, human figure animation, software for dance, and human-computer interaction. He made significant contributions to research in these areas resulting in the Life Forms system for human figure animation and the DanceForms system for dance choreography. These are now developed and marketed by Credo Interactive Inc., a software company of which he was CEO.

“Tom is so well-loved within SIAT and has been a shining light to all of us who have worked with him and beside him”, says Thecla Schiphorst, director of SIAT. “His grace, wisdom and acuity of purpose were felt by all of us and his mentorship reverberated throughout all of SIAT. We loved him and honour the great gift that he bestowed upon us in his presence among us. Tom lives on with us in his wealth of contributions to SIAT.”

“Tom Calvert was an inspiration to me in my early years as a graduate student and subsequently an academic," says Eugene Fiume, dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences. "Most of our discussions back in the day were held in pubs, where I learned much about his quiet, clear leadership style, and his fundamental scholarly principles of interdisciplinarity, human-centred design and technology for good. As perhaps a completion of a cycle, I had the great honour of presenting him with the Canadian Digital Media Pioneer Award in 2017.”

Tom is remembered fondly by his colleagues in the School of Interactive Arts & Technology, Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology, Computing Science, and Engineering Science.

For those wishing to contribute to the Tom Calvert Graduate Scholarship, please see the following link: Tom Calvert Graduate Scholarship