Spring on the York College campus

Tribute: Dean Cheesebrough

Dean Cheesebrough sits at his desk, wearing a button-down shirt and tie.

Dr. Dean Cheesebrough came to York College in 1971 and remained an active member of the College family until 2016. During his tenure, he served as the Coordinator of Elementary Education, Chair of the Education Department, President of Academic Senate (two terms), Interim Academic Dean, Head Master of York Country Day School, and Special Assistant to Presidents George Waldner and Pamela Gunter-Smith. 

This tribute to Dr. Cheesebrough, who passed away in November 2020, is offered largely in his own words. If you knew Dean, it will come as no surprise that his words are not about himself, but are instead about the two great loves in his life. 

Dean learned about an opening at York College shortly after finishing his doctoral program at Miami of Ohio in 1971. The position would be in the newly created Education Department. He said, “The first year was very difficult. We were not only building a department, but we were also working diligently to establish the reputation of the College as a new player in the field of teacher education and certification. Our first real test came when the first class of student teachers was put in the field. They had to prove that York College had a viable program. They did that, and they did it very well. Because of the diligent work of our early student teachers, and our professors, the College’s reputation for its Education Department and programs grew rapidly and grew strong.” 

In tracing the development of the College, Dean recalled a wide range of resources, but to him people and relationships were the most valuable. He stated, “We built and maintained…working relationship[s] through mutual collaboration, which established reciprocal trust and a shared respect. We were a solid team both in our relationships within the College and outside of the College. We always hired good people, we created a sense of family, and that sense of family held us together; and that was a benefit to faculty and to our students. My most cherished memories of my time at York have always been and will always be the people I worked with!”

According to Dean, he “had the opportunity to work with a number of wonderful people.” He gave credit to his wife and said, “During that same tenure, I lived with the love of my life. Jan, my wife of 61 years, was a significant source of support. As a kindergarten teacher, she provided a very close and personal connection to contemporary education at the classroom level. She helped to strengthen my awareness of what was going on in public education. She was always a solid sounding board and always my most cherished connection to public education.” 

At the York College graduation commencement ceremony on May 19, 2014, Dr. Cheesebrough was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters. He formally retired from the College in 2016. 

Institutions that endure and prosper are generally blessed with individuals who have, are currently, and will continue to make a difference. Dean Cheesebrough certainly made a difference at York College!