Professor Robert Stephen Molina passed away in his sleep on April 3, 2023, leading JSOM students and faculty to remember his legacy.
The sudden death of Molina has left JSOM in shock, as they have lost a critical member of the community. Students describe him as a very direct and straightforward person from his history practicing law. Associate Professor of Instruction Daniel Sibley met Molina when they were practicing law, and they had worked together at UTD for the past five years. He explains how Molina’s experience in being a lawyer carried over to his teaching methods.
“I think the best phrase to describe him is that … he got things done,” Sibley said. “He wasn’t one for extending review periods and stuff. He wanted to make a decision and get on the next problem, which makes sense because his career was a litigator, and that attitude was very helpful as a litigator … a very bold person he was.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many international students were required to come to school in-person to keep their visas; however, with online classes, that was not possible. So, Molina had the idea of continuing in-person classes along with an online option for all his courses so that international students could attend in-person and fulfill their visa requirements.
“Steve and I talked about it, it was a pretty easy decision. We both agreed … ‘we’re just going to make all of our classes online and in the classroom,’” Sibley said. “If a student chooses to tune in online streaming, that’s okay, but we offered it so they could be present in the classroom. And some did [show up,] some didn’t.”
Even through retirement, Molina was heavily involved in exposing students to opportunities outside the classroom.
“He didn’t have to be doing this. He retired and enjoyed doing this when he could have easily just been retired and lived really, really well for the rest of his life,” Sibley said. “But he chose to be really involved here … He was a very hands-on person, teaching lots of classes … he had been the one to bring in speakers, arrange field trips, all kinds of things … kind of a high-energy guy and I like working with people like that… We’re gonna miss him a lot. He really was responsible for building this program up, from what I can tell.”
UTD has had faculty members, including Sibley, temporarily fill in for JSOM courses for the rest of the semester. With this loss, it is time to reflect on the contributions Molina made to the academic community in JSOM and honor his memory.