Rance Cleaveland, a University of Maryland computer science professor and the computer, mathematical and natural science college’s associate dean for research, died on March 27.

Cleaveland died at his Arlington, Virginia home and is survived by his wife and three children. He was 62.

Cleaveland was born in Baltimore and received his bachelor’s degree in computer science and mathematics from Duke University in 1982. He then earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in computer science from Cornell University.

Cleaveland served as a professor at North Carolina State University and Stony Brook University before coming to this university in 2005.

He is remembered by community members at this university for not only his achievements in computer science, but also his dedication to students and colleagues alike.

William Gasarch, a computer science professor, went to lunch with Cleaveland monthly when he first arrived at this university to help him learn more about the department, he said. The interactions helped the pair form a friendship outside the classroom, Gasarch said.

“We would debate about who would treat for lunch because I would say, ‘I earn more than you do,’ and he would say, ‘well, I have three kids going to college,’” Gasarch said.

Cleaveland left this university in 2018 to serve as the National Science Foundation’s computing and computing foundations division’s director.

He returned to this university in 2022, when he was appointed the computer, mathematical and natural sciences college’s associate dean for research. Cleaveland was also a joint appointment at this university’s Institute for Systems Research and Institute for Advanced Computer Studies.

John Baras, the systems research institute’s founding director and an engineering professor at this university, said Cleaveland was not only a talented researcher but a kind person.

Due to his research acumen, Cleaveland was named an Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers fellow in 2022 for his work involving verification tools for finite-state and cyber-physical systems.

Baras, an IEEE Life Fellow, said Cleaveland’s recognition was significant because his primary field, computer science, was different from the fellowship’s field.

“It’s rare to be recognized as a fellow … but it’s even more important that you are from a different discipline like with computer science,” Baras said. “So Rance was very much a co-disciplinary researcher, educator leading across domains.”

Several of Cleaveland’s former students and colleagues commended his mentorship and teaching skills.

Bhaskar Ramasubramanian, one of Cleaveland’s former doctoral students and an assistant professor at Western Washington University, said Cleaveland had a natural ability to connect skills learned in the classroom to the real world.

Ramasubramanian still kept in contact with Cleaveland six years after graduating and believes his guidance was invaluable to his doctoral process, he said.

“He was very good at allowing us to find our way but providing the correct level of guidance that is required,” Ramasubramanian said.

Steve Marcus, engineering professor emeritus, and the systems research institute’s director from 1991 to 1996, co-supervised doctoral students with Cleaveland. Cleaveland’s extensive research and industry experience was crucial to helping students, Marcus added.

“He had a lot of interactions with industry, and so he understood the kinds of problems that they work on and the kinds of solutions they need,” Marcus said. “That had a big impact on motivating the type of research our students and his students were doing.”

Marcus emphasized that Cleaveland also cared for undergraduate computer science students. Cleaveland was a “first-rate scholar” and a dedicated mentor for students, he added.

Scott Smolka and Steve Sims founded the software company Reactive Systems along with Cleaveland in 1999. In a statement to The Diamondback, Smolka, Sims and TU Dortmund University computer science professor Bernhard Steffen wrote that they believe Cleaveland would want those who knew him to celebrate his life rather than mourn his death.

“Hug your kids, give a kiss to your significant other, prove a theorem, shoot some hoops, pet your dog, take a walk and enjoy the beauty all around you,” they wrote. “We know Rance would.”