Patrick C. Gibbons
As a Physics professor at Washington University since 1976, Pat Gibbons has always valued the success and happiness of his students through mentoring, advising, and improving classroom instruction. On the side, though, Pat has been quietly but diligently striving to build a better St. Louis. Pat has said that “a liberal education should help the student discover the meaning of life – what is really important in life, what one really cares about. I learned in college, from classmates, not from readings nor professors, that community service is really important to me, so I have always done it.”
Through his membership at the local Trinity Presbyterian Church, Pat volunteered as a construction leader for Habitat for Humanity for over a decade. He has helped build awareness for the organization, raising over $112,000 and recruiting fellow volunteers. As Katie Harder, Resource Development Manager for Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis, explained in her nomination, “His warm demeanor, inclusive nature, and unending patience with new volunteers has converted many one-time volunteers into build site ‘regulars’.”
Pat uses his expertise with the Habitat mission to bridge the gap between Washington University and the St. Louis community. As faculty advisor for the WU Habitat for Humanity student group, Pat has arranged personal tours with Habitat homeowners, allowing students to meet the families who benefit from their service. He is also the longest-standing volunteer School Coordinator for Service First, serving this signature WU effort for over fifteen years to collaborate with a St. Louis Public Schools principal and coordinate project plans for 100 freshmen volunteers annually. He now tutors at Fanning Middle School, a relationship that began years ago through Service First.
Pat’s commitment to community service may seem unrelated to the work of a Physics professor, but advisee Erin Nolan sees a connection: “It is important for students in more technical fields to have role models who have been extremely successful in their profession but who have nevertheless devoted their lives to those things we know to be fundamentally more important. Such a man is Pat Gibbons.”