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accents on english | fall 16-winter 17

Robert Sarka, 1948-2017

With gratitude, students and colleagues in the Writing Programs remember Robert "Bob" Sarka, who passed away on January 7, 2017 after an extended battle with cancer. Sarka joined the Department of English at ASU in August 2001 and taught ENG 101 and ENG 102 until the end of the Spring 2016 semester.

Sarka was passionate about the teaching of writing. Guiding his students in a step-by-step process in the development of their papers, he would rely on traditional methods such as summarizing and paraphrasing, using notecards for bibliographic information and annotated bibliographies, and testing their knowledge of MLA source documentation with quizzes. His standards for first-year composition were high, and he would meticulously provide detailed feedback on each component of his students’ drafts and final papers. His students appreciated the dedication and commitment he showed in each class period.

While Sarka’s students valued his vast knowledge as a writer and pedagogue and enjoyed the candy he would often bring to class, they loved him for the life lessons he taught them. Most of his classes began with a poem that he would read to them with great passion. Furthermore, he had a great sense of humor and would share funny stories of his life with them. He was not only a teacher, but a man who deeply cared about his students’ growth as individuals. As one of his students said, “Not only is he an English professor, he is also a life-coach. Though I understand MLA format better, Professor Sarka also helped me learn about myself and taught me ways to become a better human being.”

Many of Sarka’s students will remember him as a teacher and mentor who motivated them to give their best effort in their academic work and impacted their perspectives on life by the wisdom he shared. They are thankful for the privilege of having been in the class of a knowledgeable, kind-hearted, and inspirational person.

Adelheid Thieme


Note: This remembrance was first published in Writing Programs Writing Notes newsletter.

Image of Bob Sarka is courtesy Writing Programs.