Timothy Dunne: 1948–2016

21 April 2016

1920 – 2017

Tim Dunne trained as a mathematics teacher before completing his later studies in mathematics and statistics at the University of Natal and his doctorate in mathematical statistics at UCT. He joined the UCT academic staff in 1981 and was a member of the Department of Statistical Sciences for more than three decades until his retirement at the end of 2013. He served as head of the department for eight years and was very involved in many UCT committees. He loved UCT, especially the history of the university and the campus buildings.

He was a fellow, and a past president, of the South African Statistical Association. Over the years he served on the Councils of the International Biometric Society and the International Statistical Institute. He organised national and international conferences and workshops in various statistical disciplines. He served on the Council of UMALUSI, the body with oversight responsibility for school-leaving examinations in South Africa. His interests included the Schools Development Unit at UCT of which he was a board member.

Prof Dunne's academic interests during the latter part of his career involved the study of Rasch modelling and analysis of educational test performances. It was his passionate belief that these new technologies could contribute to the improvement of the numeracy and mathematics levels in South African schools and universities.

He was a highly intelligent man with an exceptional insight into the theory and application of statistics. He would often send his colleagues interesting probability problems or questions in logic to contemplate. He was very articulate but would never say something in five words if he could use 10 and then would throw in a phrase of Latin for good measure as well.

He will be particularly remembered for his social conscience, always concerned about the welfare of others and the upliftment of society. His colleagues remember him for his kindness, his mentorship, his encouragement and support to each and every one on an individual level. He had a unique impact on the lives of each and every student he came in contact with, not only teaching them statistics but preparing them for life.

Through his untimely death at the age of 67, UCT and the South African academic community have lost a very special man who will be remembered for his intellect, his integrity, his humour, and his generosity. We will treasure his legacy for a long time to come.

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