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Robert "Bob" Francis Sasseen

June 6, 1932 - June 14, 2017

Robert Francis Sasseen, PhD, died peacefully with family by his side in Salem Hospital on June 14, 2017 after suffering a series of strokes. A Salem resident for the past 12 years, Dr. Sasseen was a native New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn, and he still retained the accent. He was one of six children--and the only son--of Robert B. Sasseen and Teresa Regan Sasseen, also of Brooklyn.

Dr. Sasseen earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame, an M.A. and a PhD in Political Science from the University of Chicago. Dr. Sasseen began his teaching career at Marquette Unviersity, and continued at the University of Santa Clara in California. In 1965 he joined the faculty of the Department of Political Science at San Jose State University. In 1972 he was named Associate Academic Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty at San Jose State. In July of 1981 he became President of the University of Dallas, in Irving, Texas, which post he held until his retirement in 1995. Dr. Sasseen then returned to teaching, which he loved, for several more years.

As UD’s fifth president, Dr. Sasseen was instrumental in achieving significant growth for the university. He secured a permanent home for the Rome Program, facilitated the erection of the Patrick E. Haggerty Science Center, the Church of the Incarnation, and many other campus improvements, through the successful completion of a $15 million capital fundraising campaign. A scholar, philosopher and devout Roman Catholic, Dr. Sasseen inspired his students, children, and those who read his writings, to think deeply about our individual human nature as well as that of the body politic.

To the professional world, he was Dr. Sasseen. To his sisters and friends, he was “Bob,” “Dad” to his five children, and “Grandpa,” to his seven grandchildren. Bob was a contemplative soul who liked nothing better than to behold the beauty of nature on one of his many trips around the Western states and Texas in his travel trailer, “Rosie.” An avid birder, and former Eagle Scout, he could name birds just by their song. He is survived by his sister--Regina Sasseen (Reece McNiel); his children-- Robert V. Sasseen, Christopher J. Sasseen, Claire Diehl, Timothy P. Sasseen (Regina Rivera), Katherine A. Sasseen (John Hipolito); and his grandchildren—Anna Rauch-Sasseen, Katie Rauch-Sasseen, Erin Rauch-Sasseen, Grace Diehl, Bonnie Sasseen, Michael Sasseen, and Sofia Sasseen.

A funeral Mass will be held at Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Salem, Oregon, on Saturday, July 1, 2017 at 10:30 A.M. with a reception immediately following. The Mass will be preceded by a rosary in the chapel of Queen of Peace at 9:45 AM. Flowers are welcome, or donations to Catholic Charities.


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