Luke Reed, Correspondent
Benjie Blair, a JSU professor of biology, died on Tuesday morning, according to an announcement from the university School of Science. Blair, 57, taught biology at JSU for 22 years.
“Dr. Blair was a dedicated and passionate microbiologist and educator,” said Tim Lindblom, the dean of the university’s School of Science. “His classes were known for his enthusiasm, rigorous instruction, and his genuine care for students.
Lindblom said that many of Blair’s former students have said that Blair “changed the direction of their life for the better.”
“As a colleague, he was a mentor to young faculty and devoted to the Honors program,” said Lindblom. “His contributions to JSU will be sorely missed and tough to replace.”
Blair held a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate in biology. He also served as chair of the Biology Department Pre-Health Professional Committee during his time at JSU.
Jerod Sharp, SGA President and a molecular biology student of Blair’s, emphasized how much Blair impacted his time at Jacksonville State University.
“From the very first day of class, I knew the following semester would be unparalleled from my former classes,” said Sharp. “His sense of wonder was contagious and his determination to inspire his students was, well, enormously inspiring.”
Sharp continues to say that even through Blair’s battle with cancer, he “never wavered as a professor.”
“He stayed true to his calling and taught that remaining of the semester with an unmatched sense of poise and grace,” said Sharp. “He may be gone, but his legacy lives on in the hundreds of students he has taught over the years.”
“My heart and thoughts go out to the entire Blair family,” Sharp concluded.
Tara Maynard, a former biology major, had the experience to study abroad with Blair during their time at JSU.
“It was my first time traveling internationally and it kind of felt like traveling with your dad or uncle having him as our chaperone because of how goofy he would be with us,” said Maynard. “I really don’t know any better way to describe him other than being a light. Dr. Blair was truthfully one of the most genuine and down to earth professors I’ve met here at JSU.”
JSU alumna Shelby Harris, who also had the experience to study abroad with Blair, said that her life would be “much different” without Blair in it.
“I’m so thankful I got to go to Costa Rica with him, take his classes, and present research that I did with him at the student symposium my last year there,” said Harris. “I’m keeping his wife and his daughters in my heart.”
Blair was also awarded the Dean’s Award of Arts and Science at JSU in 2007. While on campus between 2012 and 2013, Blair served as the president of the Faculty Senate. Last year, he was also a recipient of the 2019-2020 SGA Golden Apple Award for his dedication to teaching the younger generation of scientists.