Ramapo Community Loses Two Beloved Members

Photo by Michael Pacheco

Two fixtures of Ramapo College, EOF director Lorne Weems and founding faculty member Henry Bischoff, died this summer and were honored with memorials last week that paid tribute to their committment to education and their dedication to making sure students reached their potential.

Weems was Director of the Educational Opportunity Fund Program, commonly known as EOF. He joined Ramapo in September 1996 and was appointed Director of EOF in October 2007.

Bischoff was a founding faculty member at Ramapo College. After 25 years at Ramapo, Bischoff retired and became the Director of Historical Studies at the Hermitage Museum, a National Historic Landmark and house museum, located in Ho-Ho-Kus. In addition, he created the Social Issues course that is now mandated for freshmen.

The College honored these instrumental members of the Ramapo community by hosting memorials last week in Friends Hall and in the Pavilion. Students, colleagues, friends and family came out to pay tribute and celebrated the memory of these beloved individuals.

Weems was remembered as someone who always went the extra yard for the students.

“He always went above and beyond what was expected of him in terms of his job for the students. I think that the students found a confidant in him … they found someone that they could rely on and someone that they could always go to for assistance,” said current acting Director of the EOF Program, Deirdre B. Foreman, of Lorne Weems. “He was always there and made himself available, no matter the circumstance. Throughout his career, he always made the students a priority in terms of their needs and assisting them in navigating through this experience we call college and ensuring that they benefitted from the experience.”

Andreina Santamaria, a junior international studies major, said that Bischoff’s contribution to the college with the creation of Social Issues course was a turning point in the education of students at Ramapo. The course, she said, has given her a well-rounded view of society and, in particular, drawn her attention to social inequality.

“After taking the course, I became aware of how prevalent social inequalities and divisions are in today’s society,” Santamaria said.

Daniela Herrera, a junior and EOF student, said Weems helped to shape the direction of his life.

“Lorne Weems is what you call an exceptional person. Through his work and equal dedication to each of his students, many of us would not be living the same lives that we did before we met him,” Herrera said. “He always told me, ‘You don't have to exceed the expectations that others make for you; the only expectations you should exceed are those that you set for yourself.’  Mr. Weems pushed me to the point where I once despised him but, to be honest, if it were not for moments like those my strive to succeed would not be so high.”

Although these two educators are no longer here, there is no doubt that these men have left their mark on Ramapo along with leaving an everlasting impact in their students' lives.