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John Ashe, Mentor and Friend

Professor John Ashe, Associate Dean, Dies Oct. 1

Professor Ashe was a Mentor to Many Students

(October 1, 2004)

John Ashe

John Ashe

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- Professor John Ashe, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies at UC Riverside, died Friday, Oct. 1 at his Riverside home, after a bout with cancer. He was 60.

A Philadelphia native, he joined the faculty in 1980 as a professor in the Department of Psychology. He studied systems neuroscience, which includes the synaptic connections between brain cells. He held faculty appointments in both the department of psychology and the department of cell biology and neuroscience. Between 1997 and 2002, he served as Chair of the Department of Psychology, a period that saw significant growth in the stature of the department and the number of academic programs.

As an associate dean, his function included building the graduate programs of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

Professor Ashe, a jazz fan who kept a picture of Miles Davis on his office wall, right above the model of a brain on his desk, worked with all the disciplines in the college.

“What we would like to see is very high caliber faculty guiding very bright graduate students in cutting edge, original research,” he said in one interview last year. “Our goal is to train young professionals that are competitive with the very best.”

Throughout his career, Professor Ashe was a devoted mentor to students. He frequently participated in programs that would attract underrepresented minorities into scientific fields.

“We are shocked and saddened by the passing of John Ashe, who has been a very important and wise leader here in the college,” said Joel Martin, interim dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. “The Dean's office staff and I are all committed to honor John with a significant effort of some kind. Our first thought is to develop support for a scholarship or mentoring program for underrepresented graduate students in the lab sciences, to build on his extraordinary success in mentoring underrepresented students in his lab.”

Professor Ashe earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology here at UC Riverside; his Ph.D. in biological science in 1977 at UC Irvine, and served as a postdoctoral researcher in neuropharmacology in 1977 at the UC San Francisco School of Medicine.

There will be a memorial service Friday, October 8, at 12 noon at Brown Colonial Mortuary, 204 W. 17th St., Santa Ana. A memorial service on campus is still in the planning stages.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made for a John Ashe Memorial Fund. Checks may be sent to the UC Riverside Foundation (noting the John Ashe Memorial Fund), 252A Highlander Hall, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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