Dr. Barbara Chamberlain remembered and honored at Appalachian Spring


The passing of Dr. Barbara Chamberlain, a member of the Board of Trustees who also served on the academic and student affairs and nominations committee, has impacted many who worked with her at Rowan. A pre-show reception was held for her at Wilson Hall, on Oct. 27th, at 6:30 p.m. where anyone could attend to talk and honor Dr. Chamberlain. 

Dr. Chamberlain was a Rowan University alumni, during her time here, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in nursing, in 1988. That was also followed by her other bachelor’s degree, her two masters, and a doctorate which she got in nursing at Widener University. 

She was described as having a love for learning and lots of care for others. Before she became a member of the Board of Trustees, she was a nursing provider and an intensive care nurse and taught many nursing students at several universities. Not only was she teaching future nurses, but for more than 10 years, she cared for those in the United States Air Force and was ranked captain senior nurse before she eventually retired.

Even though she was heavily involved with teaching nurses and helping students learn more about the sciences, while also helping the student-run EMS Squad, she was an avid supporter of the College of Performing Arts at Rowan. She was able to honor graduating students in the College of Performing Arts in the areas of singing, and music production, by establishing medallions for them. 

Many remember her for her piano skills, she was known to have been a student at the Community Music School, and faculty of the College of Performing Arts, recall her weekly piano lessons. Richard Dammers, the Dean of College of Performing Arts and a professor of music education at Rowan, spoke about her personality. 

“Wednesday was Barbara’s day and it was great because I could hear her awesome Boston accent coming down the hallway and stopping in everyone’s office,” said Dammers. “She always brought me a program from the most recent show that she had made that was off campus.”  

Her peers described her as the most kind-hearted person who put everyone before herself, she was deemed as selfless and a champion of advocacy for Rowan’s students. She was their number one supporter, when it came to attending every single commencement she could, to celebrate all graduates.

Vice Provost of Faculty Affairs, Mariano Savelski, recalled those little moments at each commencement that gave some insight into who she was as a person. 

“She’s standing there while all the students are taking their seats, and she does not stop dancing on the spot. I wanted to share with you all this story,” said Savelski. “She told me all about her piano lessons and how excited she was that she started late in life to take piano.”

He recited the days of her piano recitals where she showcased her skills that she learned while in her classes. Another attendee who described that she had not fully gotten to know Dr. Chamberlain before her passing, said that she was the sweetest person ever, who always had a positive aura that stayed with her. Many of the staff and friends all discussed how she loved to dance, especially during ceremonies, she never stopped dancing, even if nobody else was on the dance floor. That is also what her daughter, Sheryl Sobiesiak talked about during the reception. She also expressed how she was thankful that many people had come out to reminisce on the moments they had with her mother. 

Even staff members who were new to Rowan still were able to get a chance to meet Dr. Chamberlain and become familiar with the personality that her family loved. Jennie Quinn, the director of academic presenting and operations joined Rowan last fall and was able to encounter a couple of moments with her before she passed. 

“The very first week I was here Barbara came into my office and I loved her immediately,” said Quinn. “She had amazing energy, and she came in because she was looking for a list of every single show we were going to do that year. I am at the reception tonight because I want her family to know that their mom was really important to us and we loved her.”

The reception, which lasted an hour, was followed by a performance at the Pfleeger Concert Hall called “Appalachian Spring” which to attendees seemed the best way to honor her love for performing arts. 

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