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Cornell social activist Don Barr dies at age 72

Donald J. Barr, professor emeritus of policy analysis and management in the College of Human Ecology and a longtime social activist who spoke for disenfranchised members of the Ithaca and worldwide communities, died Jan. 24 in Ithaca, due to complications following a stroke.

A member of the Cornell faculty since 1971, Barr focused many of his professional and personal activities on fighting bias, prejudice and oppression and on issues related to leadership, empowerment and transforming power oppression. For many years he co-taught a popular Cornell course, Racism in American Society, and inspired many students to choose careers to pursue social change and justice.

"Professor Barr was much sought after by Human Ecology students of color, and others, for advice and support as they contemplated public service careers," said Jerome Ziegler, former dean of the College of Human Ecology.

Born May 7, 1935, in Geneva, Ohio, Barr earned a B.S. (1957) in social and earth sciences at Miami University in Ohio, an M.A. (1959) in sociology and a Ph.D. (1964) in guidance and counseling, both at Indiana University. Before teaching at Cornell, he taught at the University of Michigan and in elementary, middle and secondary public schools in Ohio and Indiana. He led numerous workshops and educational programs for such programs as the Telluride Summer Program, National Teacher Corps, National Training Laboratories, Summer Institute for the University of Victoria, UNICEF, Early Childhood Program Development and the National Executive Service Corps in New York City.

Among many publications, Barr authored several books, including "Liberalism to the Test: African-American Migrant Farmworkers and the State of New York," "Transforming Power: A 13-Week Program for Democratic Change in Your Community" and "Educational Leadership for In-School Administrators." He was the recipient of various community service and teaching awards, including the National Danforth Teaching Award, Distinguished Teaching Award for the College of Human Ecology and the key to the city of Cincinnati for his empowerment work with low-income families.

In his fight against social injustices, Barr was a leading faculty participant during Apartheid to insist Cornell stop investing in South Africa.

Barr is survived by his wife, Judi, of Trumansburg, her two children, his four children and extended family.

A celebration of Barr's life will be held Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center (GIAC). In lieu of flowers, contributions in his name can be made to Ithaca Hospicare, any nonprofit Alzheimer's or vascular dementia organization or to GIAC.

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