“It was a real shock to everybody in the school,” said Jeff Pomerantz, an associate professor in the School of Information and Library Science.
Dirks advised the school often and was appointed to be an adjunct professor beginning in the fall of 2013.
“Everyone expressed this horror, so sudden and horrible, and what a shame really it was,” Pomerantz said.
Upon graduating from UNC with his master’s degree in information and library science in 1990, Dirks went to work in Microsoft’s research division.
Though an avid UNC basketball fan, Dirks’ enthusiasm for the school went far beyond love of the game.
He continuously came back to UNC, as a student, an adviser, a researcher and a member of the School of Information and Library Science’s Board of Visitors.
“It was really wonderful to have a graduate (of the school) do so well and do such interesting work, and then be able to come back and contribute to the school and our current students in such a concrete way,” Pomerantz said.
Gary Marchionini, dean of the school, said the University will miss Dirks’ expertise and advice.
“Students will miss a great personality,” he said. “He is just a funny, engaging guy — great sense of humor. I’m sure he would have added a lot to the classroom.”
“I will really miss him. He brightened up any room he walked into,” he said. “He was a big guy with a great big smile, and the world is a better place because of him.”
Jane Greenberg, a professor in the school, knew Dirks for more than 20 years.
“He was generous with his time, sharing his knowledge,” she said. “Lee was one of the most outgoing people I have ever met. I feel fortunate to have known Lee in my life.”
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