Former Vice Provost Paul Brown, who was known to greet his colleagues with nothing less than a smile, died Monday, July 29, he was 76.
William Nance, vice president for student affairs, said Brown died of medical injuries, but Nance did not want to submit too much medical information without family consent.
According to Charles Whitcomb, a retired SJSU administrator, Brown held many positions on campus including department chair for the department of recreation and leisure studies, associate dean and interim dean for the college of sciences and the assistant to the provost.
“I worked with Paul for 45 years,” he said. “I began as a student of Paul’s and later down the road, he hired me for a first job as a lecturer.”
Whitcomb said Brown was his mentor and had a major influence on his personal and professional life, as well as the lives of other young faculty.
“He was the person that I would follow anywhere because I trusted him,” Whitcomb said. “No matter what it meant, he would tell you the truth, but he would do it with a gentleness and understanding.”
Whitcomb said Brown found himself in many different places on campus from the department of recreation and leisure to the office of the provost, but he would never expect recognition for his works.
“In 45 years I never heard him say ‘Look what I did for you’,” he said.
Nance said he first met Brown as a member in the provost office as he was approaching retirement.
He said he remembers the time they spent at lunch with Whitcomb laughing and connecting over their work and personal lives.
Because of the different positions he held throughout the university, Nance said Brown was well known across campus and he was like a walking history book.
“He was so fun to talk to,” Nance said said. “He could tell you anything about this institution that you wanted to know: people, stories, incidents, activities … ”
Whitcomb said Brown loved SJSU, which drove his knowledge for the campus and his commitment to the staff.
He said Brown's love and commitment was one of the reasons why he worked with different departments on the university.
Nance said Brown would often tell stories and one of his favorite phrases was, ‘I can remember when …' as he discussed what university policies worked and what didn't.
“People knew him and respected his judgment,” he said. “They didn't always like his decision, but they knew his decision was fair and factual.”
Whitcomb said Brown was also involved in the community
by serving on the parks commission for the city of San Jose with De Anza College and West Valley College as the campuses established recreational curriculms and also as the director of Camp Konocti at Clear Lake during the summer.
Whitcomb said Brown was survived by his wife Pat Brown, two daughters and grandchildren.
“I hope his wife Pat is doing well,” Nance said. “He loved his grandkids and he talked about them all the time.”
Jessica Larsen, Brown’s assistant, stated in an email that his memorial is planned for October 6 at the Villages Golf and Country Club and there are plans to have several SJSU members make speeches at his memorial service.