The faculty and staff of the Ohio Program of Intensive English (OPIE) would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family of Dr. Robert “Bob” Dakin. Dr. Dakin, the founder of OPIE, passed away at the age of 97 on May 4, 2017.
Dr. Dakin was not only the founder of OPIE but also a caring mentor and wonderful friend. After his retirement from Ohio University, Dr. Dakin stayed in contact with many of his former colleagues. He was often contacted for his historical perspective on the founding of OPIE and the Department of Linguistics. The fact that OPIE is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017 is a testament to Dr. Dakin’s visionary leadership when he established the program in 1967.
At that time, Dr. Dakin was recruited from the University of Michigan to Ohio University to create the first university-governed intensive English as a Second Language program in Ohio. Working tirelessly, he developed OPIE from a small program to one that saw enrollment increase dramatically by 1973 as it began to accept large numbers of sponsored students sent to study English before seeking admission at other universities. Shortly thereafter, the University began increasing the number of students admitted on a conditional basis (academic admission guaranteed once students satisfy the language requirement through OPIE classes). Total enrollment peaked at 635 students during the 1980-81 academic year.
Dr. Dakin also found time to be a creative scholar. His three-volume work on the vocabulary of the Ohio River Valley has been described as the “single best work on the region.” In addition to Dr. Dakin’s professional accomplishments, he was a kind, warm-hearted man who mentored many OPIE faculty and students. Charlie Mickelson, a former graduate student in Linguistics and OPIE Teaching Assistant is a fine example. Eventually Charlie became a long-serving director of OPIE under Dr. Dakin’s guidance.
While Dr. Dakin will certainly be missed, his spirit will continue to live on in the classrooms of Gordy Hall as new generations of students and faculty continue the work he began. His legacy is commemorated on a plaque containing his name on the main door of the OPIE office in Gordy 155. A service to commemorate his life will be held on Saturday, June 3, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. at the Christ Lutheran Church, 69 Mill Street, Athens, Ohio. His obituary can be found here.