September 12, 2005
Source: University of Toronto:
In memoriam: Professor Ferenc (Ferko) Csillag
Professor Csillag was an inspiring teacher, researcher
Professor Ferenc (Ferko) Csillag, chair of geography at U of T at Mississauga, died June 10 of cancer. He was just shy of his 50th birthday.
Born in Hungary, Csillag attended Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, receiving his BA in 1980, MA in 1985 and PhD in 1987. He then moved to North America. After serving as an associate professor at Syracuse University, he joined the geography department at UTM in 1993. In 1999 he became associate chair, then chair in 2003.
Csillag’s research focused on quantitative spatial analysis, environmental monitoring and methodological issues related to geostatistics and remote sensing
and he proudly published many journal articles with his graduate students. “Ferko was a great scholar, an accomplished graduate supervisor and undergraduate teacher with a world-renowned reputation,” said Professor Ian Orchard, vice-president and principal, in notifying the UTM community of Csillag’s death.
As a testament to his devotion to both his scholarly research and his students, Csillag received the 2004 Boeing Award for Best Paper in Image Analysis from the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing in honour of work he had done with one of his many doctoral students.
Csillag served his department not only as associate chair and chair but earlier as co-ordinator of the geographic information systems BSc program, as a member of the master of spatial analysis board, a U of T-Ryerson initiative, and as a member of the graduate geography advisory committee. He was a vibrant member of the greater UTM community, inspiring interaction and dialogue among faculty and administration alike. He was also very active professionally with organizations including the American Geophysical Union, Canadian Association of Geographers, Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers’ Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society and the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing.
“Ferko was the heart and soul of our department. Through his vision he created a department characterized by its passion and success in teaching, research and learning,” said Professor Kathi Wilson, speaking on behalf of her colleagues. “He taught us to work together, to support each other, to not be afraid to admit something we do not know, to be creative and take risks in both our teaching and research and above all to laugh.
“Ferko always put our needs and those of his students above his own. He was always there to listen and never turned away anyone who was in need of his advice, assistance, expertise or even his chocolate cake. He brought such life to our department.
“As a chair he provided invaluable leadership and vision. As a professor and researcher his energy, creativity and success is surpassed by none. As a mentor he paved a path of success for those of us here and those that have moved on. As a colleague he provided constant support and encouragement. He was our inspiration. And so we mourn the loss of not just the chair of our department. We mourn the loss of a most amazing researcher, professor, mentor, colleague and above all our friend.”
A tribute will be held Sept. 28 at UTM beginning at 4 p.m. Colleagues, friends and students are invited to attend.