On a cool night in Tampa, family, friends, colleagues and students of James Halsted were kept warm by each other’s embrace, as they gathered to celebrate his life.
Nearly 200 people attended a memorial Tuesday night at the MLK Plaza for the former Honors College professor, who died Thursday after a six-year battle with cancer. He was 56.
For 17 years, Halsted was a professor at USF, teaching in the Honors College for more than 12 years, and was a professor in the criminology department since 1986.
Considered a Friedrich Nietzsche virtuoso, students and colleagues described Halsted as a professor who influenced their everyday lives and encouraged students to achieve their goals.
Max Bromley, an associate professor in the criminology department and long-time friend, spoke of the professor’s passion for life as a professor and colleague.
“Jim (Halsted) was a complex individual who saw the best in life,” said Bromley, who met Halsted in 1980. “Tonight is a celebration of his life. I see the same passion that I saw in Jim reflected upon those present … certainly his students.”
Kathleen Heide, interim dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, remembered the influence Halsted had on his students as well as the high standards he expected of their work.
“(Halsted) helped students find their interests. He never compromised his standards, and students knew that,” she said. “He never had trouble filling up his classes.”
In addition, Heide said Halsted believed in the philosophy ‘seize the day’ and told those present that the professor would want them to do the same.
Many past and present students had the opportunity to share their thoughts on Halsted’s influence on their lives.
One of those students was Sarah Ford, who broke into tears after saying a few words.
“(Halsted) demanded your respect and he made (students) want to learn,” she said.
Another Honors student, Ngoc Du, spoke of the impact Halsted had on her as a sophomore at USF two years ago.
“(Halsted) was probably the most powerful professor I ever had. And I wish I had told him that before,” she said.
Jerome Nelson, a former student of Halsted, said he always enjoyed listening to the professor’s lectures and talked during class but confessed he was initially scared to address him in class.
“He helped me elevate my standards of how I spoke to people,” Nelson said. “As soon as I heard of his passing, I knew I had to keep his passion to carry on alive.”