Economics chair honors van Heerden



BAR HARBOR — A newly endowed faculty position at College of the Atlantic will honor long-time COA trustee, colleague and alumna Cody van Heerden, who passed away in 2018 after a battle with ALS.

The Cody van Heerden Chair in Economics and Quantitative Social Sciences will be held by COA faculty member Davis Taylor, van Heerden’s professor, mentor and friend.

Taylor said that it was a great honor to be the first to hold the position.

“Cody embodied the finest qualities of a human ecologist: great intellectual curiosity, dedication to rigor and detail and an empathetic approach to improving the world,” Taylor said. “Cody was inspiring to work with. Her research significantly expanded our understanding of institutional change in the Maine lobster industry.”

Van Heerden, who received one of her three master’s degrees from COA in 2017, was an integral part of the COA community, mentoring students, hosting events and sharing her insights with faculty and staff, said COA President Darron Collins.

“Cody was a remarkable human being and I cannot think of a better way to honor her and her family than to establish this chair,” Collins said. “Her sense of wonder and adventure were perfectly aligned with our institutional ethos. I miss her every day, but am excited we can remember her like this.”

The establishment of the chair is part of the Broad Reach Campaign for College of the Atlantic’s Future, a $50 million effort to endow new student scholarships and faculty positions, create state-of-the-art, environmentally sustainable academic and residential spaces and transition to a fossil fuel-free campus. The campaign has raised $44.5 million in 23 months.

The creation of the van Heerden Chair was made possible by many dozens of gifts from her friends across Mount Desert Island. Led by COA trustee Michael Boland and his wife Deirdre Swords and inspired by a lead gift from David and Robin Reis, fundraising in support of the chair will continue.

“Cody’s passion knew no bounds; she had such a wide range of intellectual interests that positively affected everyone around her,” Boland said. “Deirdre and I felt it was important to honor Cody’s passion with this chair and to keep that energy going.”

Endowing a faculty position ensures that the fund and the position will be a permanent part of the college.

“It is rare that one can honor the memory of a friend in such an appropriate fashion,” Reis said. “COA stands for all that Cody stood for and I am convinced that somewhere she is smiling today.”

As her obituary read, “Cody believed in community, regard, and respect — and those qualities are what she looked for in life as she felt that those qualities changed everything.” She volunteered for many years at the Bay School in Blue Hill teaching math, serving on the board and coaching sports. She served on numerous other boards including Acadia Wildlife Foundation, The Neighborhood House, and the Mount Desert Nursery School, which she chaired. She and her husband, Christiaan, also owned Moss Gallery in Northeast Harbor, and she co-owned Artemis Gallery there with Deirdre Swords.

Van Heerden held master’s degrees in geology from Brown University, oceanography from the University of Maine and human ecology from COA, where she focused on institutional economics. She passed away on Sept. 12, 2018 at the age of 58. She is survived by her husband, Christiaan; her daughters, Alexi and Eliza; and her brother, John Harper and his daughter, Sarafina.

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