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Kaeli Conforti, undergraduate alum:
He was my absolute favorite professor at USF St. Pete (the others were great, too!) I loved his stories about working in the field and am forever thankful for his guidance. Keeping him and his family in my thoughts and prayers today and always. Rest in Peace, my friend.
Christian Crider, master's program graduate:
There are so few lights in the darkness. When one goes out, we notice.
Amy Blanton, undergraduate alumn:
He was my favorite professor while in school, even though the others were great too. I learned so much from him. I loved hearing him tell stories of his experiences in the field & how much it still excited him. I felt very fortunate to have had him as a professor & a mentor. I pray for peace for his family & the many people that this great man impacted while he was here on earth. Rest in peace professor.
Wayne Garcia, master's program graduate, colleague and friend:
We just had drinks and dinner with him and the wives and the Snyders [last] Saturday night. Our hearts are crushed. But damn, what a fine man and how he made us all better. Listening to Rebirth Brass Band and trying to hold it together. I am making a Sazerac when I get home. Then I am making seven more until I run out of rye whiskey. He was my teacher for theory, on my thesis committee, and my friend.
Chris Ingram, master's program graduate:
I just heard the sad news. Bob called me on Wed. of this week. He was excited about his approaching retirement and new challenges he was planning. We talked about his son, and how proud he was of him and the maturity and changes he has seen in him. We made plans for coffee or a beer next time he was in Tampa,a meeting that will now never happen. Bob was more than a professor, he was a friend and I will miss him. But he will now always be the professor looking out for his mass of students. Goodbye my friend. And thank you for the passion, caring and no bullshit attitude you brought to all you met.
Keeley Sheehan, master's program graduate:
So there was this one time Dardenne just casually mentioned covering a nude beauty pageant in Canada, and then, ya know, continued talking about whatever. Always meant to ask him to elaborate. Also, there was this other time he knew that I knew that he knew that I hadn't finished that day's reading. But he just gave me my sub-par response paper grade and didn't hold it against me. I mean, he'd made us read Lester Bangs and I hadn't held that against him, so I figured we were square. Today is stupid. But all this other stuff wasn't, which I guess is all you can ask for. If I knew how to make a good martini, I'd toast to newsprint and pay phones and covering stories the old fashioned way. He told Tara and I once how to make a good martini but it got kinda long-winded. The best office chats always did.
Tara McCarty, undergraduate alum:
I never had you as a teacher — I had the privilege of calling you a friend. Miss you with all my heart, Dardenne.
Amanda Starling, graduate:
He guided me through the journalism program and sort of mentored me. He took a personal interest and made sure I could excel as soon as possible. He fought for me to get an exemption in a course. We would meet at times and discuss my career and abilities. He cared about students and would invest so thoroughly in them. He loved our program and our students most of all. He kept suggesting retirement but I don't think he was ever going to really leave...He was a key leader in the journalism program and its growth. No one invested more in the program and students than he did. I feel like I've lost a dear friend that I wish I had spent more time with. It's rare to have an instructor with as must experience and investment as Bob Dardenne. He sat with an open office door and beckoned a curious student journalist to discuss her future. Within an hour, I was on my way to taking courses beyond my anticipated starting year. Within a year, I knew more about foreign correspondence, reaching out to sources and exploring journalism beyond textbooks and initial encounters. Many will know Dardenne as a brilliant writer, innovative department head, and amusing professor. I'll never forget the Dardenne who patted me on the shoulder and said, "Keep up the good work, Starling."
Lexy Parr, graduate:
Today I signed on to Facebook and saw that one of USFSP's BEST professors passed away last night. He was an amazing teacher, a great listener, and had a beautiful passion for people. I am deeply saddened by his passing. He was a great encourager, and helped me see my potential in writing. He loved culture and going deeper with people and experiencing their stories. He taught me that to be a great journalist you need to be a great human being. You need to listen and make ethical decisions. And you need to have fun with your writings. He was a stickler for grammar, and loved to cover my papers in red ink, but he always had something positive to say. You'll be in my prayers Dr.Dardenne.
Lauren Burg, graduate:
He was the professor who told me to stick it out during a rough patch early in my time as part of the program. I was seriously thinking of changing majors, but he got me to say that while times were tough, they would get better. Man, am I glad to have stuck it out now, as doing so helped me in pursuing my dream of covering the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Ok, so it's not a big time gig, but rather experience which will come in handy going forward).
Dardenne was the most influential professor I have ever had the pleasure of learning from. He is going to be missed by many. A wonderful professor and an incredibly man.
Emily Evans, graduate:
Although I had only known him for a short time, he saw true potential in me when no other professor did. I only have two classes with him, but he taught me more than any professor at USFSP. I am deeply saddened that my journalism professor passed away yesterday, but I know that I will push through these next couple semesters to fulfill that potential he always saw in me.
Jamie Kennedy, graduate:
The day I was used as an example of students with poor grammar I was offended and angry. Who did that man think he was?! Turns out he was one of the best minds I've ever had the privilege to learn from. Bob Dardenne was an incredible teacher, journalist, mentor and man. He had a statistic, historic example or personal experience to contribute to any topic of conversation, my favorite being the Dolly Parton interviews sans wig. Rest in peace Bob. Thanks for making me a better writer and a far more insightful person. You are incredibly missed by anyone that had the opportunity to talk with you.
Krystal Blais, graduate:
Journalism students unexpectedly lost a very loved and respected professor, mentor and friend today. Dr. Bob Dardenne, I know he'll probably hate that I felt the need to post on Facebook about this, was one of the smartest and wisest men I've ever met, and he had the awesome white beard to prove it. His perspective on the world and his ability to accept society's changes will always be admirable to me. He was silly, honest and wanted nothing but the best for his students. Rest in peace, Dardenne. You are truly missed by all of your students.
P.S. You're welcome, Dardenne, for not using the Oxford comma at all in this entire post.
Chelsi Kallis, current student:
Deeply saddened to hear the news of my professor Dr.Dardenne's passing. Though I only got to know you through this short semester I got to know enough of you to know you were a great person. You always kept the classroom full of smiles. You had a passion for what you did and I admired that. I know you will be greatly missed by so many! You and your family are in my prayers!
Hannah Shults, graduate:
Dardenne was a honorable man, professor and above all, journalist. He was always on the students side and always had an open door for students. I will never forget him and always remember what he taught us as student journalists. Rest in paradise sir.
Wendy Biddlecombe, master's program graduate:
I've had a hard time quantifying what exactly I, and we, lost when Bob Dardenne died last week.
He was my professor, and chaired my master's thesis. But he was a friend, a confidant, an unexpected role model.
I don't drink too much, but I always drank too much when he was around. Dr. Dardenne and I ate and drank around town, every once in a while, to check in or catch up. If I had enough to drink, I might have even called him 'Bob.' The rest of the time he was 'Dr. Dardenne,' even after I graduated and became a reporter, too.
Dardenne was able to talk to anyone about anything and make them feel comfortable. Anywhere I ever went with him he knew someone, whom he was genuinely pleased to see.
One of my favorite things about him was his strong character and how his opinions rarely vacillated. I remember telling him to check out HBO's "Girls" because he might be interested in the feminist themes; he said he would never watch a show called "Girls" because the show was about 20-somethings and they were "women," not "girls."
Or, one time in a three hour media theory class, when he came in with a Halloween costume ad and wanted to discuss the implications of over-sexualized costumes for little girls, like "cutie pirate." And somehow, the random discussion fit into media theory.
You could always count on him to be in his office when you needed to talk to him, feet up, typing away. He'd say he was busy, but invite you to sit down, talk about your academic issue, then the other 50 things that were on his mind that day.
I was in the newsroom when I heard he had died. And I cried out back because I knew I had so many things I still needed to ask him.