Gian Nicola Babini, 1944-2012. Credit ISTEC CNR.

There has been heartfelt sorrow across the international ceramic community upon learning that Gian Nicola Babini, outstanding educator, visionary and strong advocate of international cooperation, passed away March 12, 2012 following a long and courageous battle with cancer.

Former ACerS president, L. David Pye, Dean Emeritus of the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, was a friend and colleague of Babini, and he wrote me saying:

I join a long list of mourners with a special sense of the loss of a great friend, mentor, and supporter of all things ceramics in this new century.

I first met him in the spring of 2004 in Italy at the suggestion of Kathryn Logan, then president of ACerS, in conjunction with a globalizational outreach effort undertaken by ACerS at that time. At that time, he was president of the European Ceramic Society and it was readily apparent that we shared many common views on international outreach, the integrated roles of teaching, scholarship and research at the university level, and the strategic role professional organizations could and must play in promoting the field of ceramics at the international level.

Thus, he was a strong advocate for the revitalization of the International Ceramic Federation, which he served as president in 2007, and the establishment of new series of International Congresses on Ceramics. He served admirably and most proudly as the president of the 2nd Congress in this series, convened in Verona, Italy in 2008. Throughout all of these endeavors, he was always upbeat, gracious, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing fellow ceramists gather from across the globe to learn first-hand what was new in ceramics, and to explore new frontiers. For these achievements alone, the international community will be forever in debt to his memory.

On a more personal level, I will truly miss meeting him at various gatherings and learning his thinking on a variety of subjects. Always the optimist, always respectful of fellow ceramists, and always so proud of the Institute for Science and Technology of Ceramics (ISTEC), which he led for nearly three decades, and especially his beloved family. He truly represented all things best in the field of ceramics. Farewell good friend — you will be missed.

ISTEC’s obituary on Babini goes on to note:

[Babini] pursued the growth and the development of the Institute, since 1976 when he was a researcher. He became personally involved in and promoting the growth of a small research group on ceramics, till the current relevant Institute: a structure with two sites (Faenza and Turin) and 60 people. …At domestic level he was a promoter of initiatives that resulted in the creation of the Agency for Ceramics, the settlement of the ENEA Laboratories, just inside its premises ISTEC hosted the Degree in Chemistry and Technology of Ceramic Materials. He planned and pursued the implementation of a Science Park on Ceramic Materials: new buildings adjacent to ISTEC premises, dedicated to incubators and technology transfer structures, are testament to the vision and strategic skills of Babini, in realizing a project that ought to represent a symbol for innovation and economic development for the city of Faenza and at National level. …Babini always participated in initiatives and projects related to R&D, promoted by the National Research Council of Italy, several Ministries several Regions, in particular Emilia Romagna and Piedmont District.

For us at ISTEC-CNR, Gian Nicola Babini is, and will remain, an example to follow, regarding his teaching and all what he has left us. In spite of the relevance of the roles he covered during his life and the resounding titles he received, he maintained the enthusiasm to communicate with young researchers and the ability to transfer them the love for knowledge coupled with the tireless leadership efforts he made in various initiatives where material science could have a positive impact on society’s progress. …ISTEC never forget him and his master spirit will be able to reach the new generation of researchers coming to ceramic materials science.