Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

February 19, 2009

Obituary: Randi Kaye Daimon Koeske

Randi Kaye Daimon Koeske, a psychology professor at Pitt-Greensburg, died Jan. 31, 2009, of complications from cancer. She was 59.

A memorial service is set for 4 p.m. March 2 in UPG’s Mary Lou Campana Chapel and Lecture Center.  

Koeske held research and teaching positions at Pitt before joining the UPG faculty in 1989. She became an associate professor there in 1993.

In Oakland, Koeske was an instructor in Pitt’s School of General Studies from 1973 to 1988. She was an associate research professor in the School of Social Work (1974-75), a research associate in the Graduate School of Business (1976-77) and a post-doctoral consultant and research associate at the Learning Research and Development Center (1980).

She also held positions as a research associate and systems analyst for childhood obesity and diabetes projects in the Department of Psychiatry (1979-1985).

Koeske authored widely cited classic works on the psychological effects of menstruation and developed guidelines for non-sexist research in psychology. She also researched the issue of burnout in human service professionals and the psychology of health and illness.

In addition to her scholarly research, Koeske developed and taught numerous courses at UPG including courses in trauma, personality, human sexuality, gender and mental health, health psychology, and a capstone senior thesis course.

Koeske directed the annual UPG survey on student perceptions of the campus climate. She was a member of the UPG assessment task force, which developed a plan to evaluate academic, academic support and student service programs on campus over a five-year period. She also was instrumental in developing the UPG psychology department’s web site.

Koeske was named UPG’s outstanding faculty member of the year in 2002 and received the campus’s distinguished teaching award in 2004. In 2008 she received UPG’s distinguished service award.

In Oakland, Koeske served on the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Women’s Concerns from 2001-02 through 2003-04 and chaired PACWC’s faculty recruitment and retention subcommittee. She was a member of the University Senate ad hoc committee for the promotion of gender equity and became a member of the Senate’s anti-discriminatory policies committee in 2006.

Koeske also was a member of the Board of Trustees affirmative action committee, 2004-06.

Irene Frieze, professor of psychology, business administration and women’s studies, remembered Koeske as a passionate person who got highly involved in whatever she did. “Every time she was involved, she would take on a big project. That was her pattern,” Frieze said.

The two met in 1972 when Frieze was interviewing for a faculty position at Pitt. They became friends as well as colleagues. They collaborated on several research projects prior to Koeske’s appointment at UPG and later worked together on University committees on gender equity and sexual harassment issues.

Koeske had a keen gift for critiquing research and pointing out areas of weakness. “She would write incredibly long critiques of things,” Frieze said, adding that while they weren’t always welcomed, her motivation was that she cared so much and the insights were valuable. “Her critical mind was very important,” Frieze said.

As teaching and service activities became more prominent in Koeske’s career, her passion again was evident. Frieze said the two would lunch together and when they did, Koeske always had some interesting teaching topic to bring to the table. “There was always some kind of new technique she wanted to try,” she recalled.

In her personal life, Koeske also was a very caring person, Frieze said, citing Koeske’s commitment to her church and service that ranged from counseling families of cancer patients to caring for the well-being of elderly Alzheimer’s patients who had no other advocates. Frieze said Koeske stood by her as Frieze’s husband was dying of cancer. “She was always there for me. She did that for me and for other people.”

Departmental colleague Diane Marsh said Koeske “personified the best of Pitt-Greensburg,” citing Koeske’s extensive record of service to the campus, the University community and her profession. Marsh, who worked on several research projects and presentations with Koeske over the past two decades, remembered her as a “conscientious collaborator” who always did more than her share. “It was a great benefit to have a colleague with her expertise,” she said.

“She also was one of the most devoted teachers I have known,” Marsh said, adding that Koeske was a role model to students who went on to more successful lives under her mentorship.

Students, faculty and staff easily felt a kinship with Koeske. “She became your friend,” Marsh said. “Many professors are well liked. Randi was loved and she loved her students. She touched their minds, but she also touched their hearts.”

Koeske is survived by her husband, Gary Koeske, who is a professor in the School of Social Work; sons Matthew and Zachary, and two grandchildren.

A scholarship fund has been established in Koeske’s honor. For information, contact Karen Gavula, 724/836-7497.

— Kimberly K. Barlow

Leave a Reply