Remembering David Ahern

David W. Ahern, University of Dayton professor emeritus of political science, died Monday, Dec. 26. He was 68.

Ahern served as a professor at the University for more than 30 years, including seven as chair of the political science department.

Ahern moved to Green Valley, Arizona, after his retirement in 2008. He died peacefully in hospice care after being diagnosed in November with kidney cancer.

“David was a wonderful colleague and teacher, and a terrific friend with a delightful sense of humor and an engaging conversational style,” said John Geiger, former University provost.

Geiger and his wife visited Ahern on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

“With his graduate assistant, Brian Young, he also introduced the computer simulation of the mythical country of ‘Ruritania’ as a method of teaching about political parties,” Geiger said. “He was something of a pioneer in the use of the computer for such purposes.”

Rick Ghere, associate professor of political science, said Ahern was an ardent and loyal friend to many University faculty and staff.

“He loved to rib folks he liked about any number of issues ranging from their driving habits to choices of restaurants,” Ghere recalled. “Dave was generous to a fault — in my case, he offered me his home while he was traveling, provided I would take care of his belligerent cat.”

He also was a fierce advocate for those on the receiving end of unjust treatment, whether marginal groups in society or particular individuals around him, Ghere said.

Ahern joined the University faculty in 1977 and served as political science department chair from 1993 to 2000.

“David had a delightfully sharp sense of humor,” said Jason Pierce, College of Arts and Sciences dean. “He was a creative and innovative educator, developing simulations and computer-facilitated learning well before inquiry-based models of learning became more common in higher education. Former students are still quick to remember fondly their time in Ruritania. He also provided valuable leadership for the department of political science over many years.”

Ahern coauthored Women and Political Participation: Cultural Change in the Political Arena and Women and Public Policy: A Revolution in Progress. His articles on political socialization appeared in Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Behavior, and Simulation and Games.

He held a bachelor’s degree from Southern Connecticut State College, and a master’s and doctorate from the University of Maryland.

Ahern will be cremated and his ashes will be taken to Madera Canyon, near his Arizona home. His remaining ashes will be taken to Connecticut to the cemetery where his parents are buried.

The University will remember him in prayer on campus at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, at the monthly Memorial Mass in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception.

- Dave Larsen, communication coordinator, College of Arts and Sciences

Photo above: exploring ”Ruritania,” are Brian Young (L) and David Ahern (R). Photo by Larry Burgess. 

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