The Citadel mourns death of Pat Leverett
Pat Leverett was a quiet, low-key sort of man who made a huge impression on his colleagues in The Citadel Psychology Department where the 11 faculty and staff members are reeling at the news of his death.
The Citadel family was saddened to hear that over the July 4 weekend Leverett, 50, was aboard a plane that went missing near Homer, Alaska. For three days everyone prayed he would be found alive and able to return to Charleston. While the plane’s wreckage and the three people aboard were found Tuesday morning in a remote mountain area of Alaska, it was late Tuesday night when news of Leverett’s death made its way back to Charleston.
“Our department is really devastated by this,” said Steve Nida, head of the psychology department. “We in the department, students of course, but especially faculty, really valued him.”
Nida said Leverett was "an emotional centerpiece of the department – a real anchor." This past spring the department surprised him for his birthday. Leverett thought he was having lunch one afternoon in May with colleague Virginia DeRoma, but when he walked into California Dreaming nearly everyone in his department was waiting to wish him happy birthday.
“Everyone felt a close personal connection to him,” Nida said. “He was somebody who was a friend to all of us. He was kind. He was compassionate. He was patient. He was someone we liked to hang around with, talk sports and family. He was just a great all around guy. We are all feeling a loss personally as well as professionally.”
A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Leverett came to The Citadel in 1991 as an adjunct professor. At the time he was also an instructor at the Medical University of South Carolina’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He became a full-time faculty member in 1996. His primary teaching duties were in the College of Graduate and Professional Studies clinical counseling program, but he also taught cadets in his undergraduate personality course.
He was well liked by his students.
“He really cared about his students and helping them succeed and meet their goals,” Nida said. “He had very high standards and maintained those standards, but at the same time he was willing to give completely and freely of his time to help students meet those standards.”
But Leverett’s involvement with students and faculty and staff went beyond the classroom. A tenured professor, he spent considerable time working with cadets as a faculty mentor with the cadet Human Affairs Team from India Company and as a faculty advisor for India Company cadets. He was active with the campus financial affairs committee, undergraduate admissions committee, facilities planning board, library services committee and Communication Across the Curriculum.
“He was committed to this institution in every respect imaginable,” Nida said.
A single father to son Walker, Leverett rediscovered his passion for flying a few years ago. He was on a vacation trip to Alaska with two flying buddies when their plane went down.
Ray Jones, associate dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies, has been teaching psychology at The Citadel for several years. He and Leverett talked often, especially about Leverett’s love of flying.
“Pat was following his dream to fly, and so few of us take time to follow our dreams. Fly on, Pat.”