The administration of Saint Leo University is saddened to inform our alumni and friends that Dr. Douglas M. “Doug” Astolfi, professor emeritus of history, died at his home earlier in June. He was 75 and had been ill with kidney cancer.
Dr. Astolfi had gradually reduced his teaching load over the last couple of years in preparation for his retirement, which took place at the end of the recent academic year. He kept his course commitments in spite of his illness. At the end of April the Saint Leo Board of Trustees awarded him the title of professor emeritus in recognition of his work elevating the stature of the university and enriching the lives of Saint Leo students.
Dr. Astolfi first joined Saint Leo in 1997 as an experienced administrator and professor; he was
vice president of academic affairs with responsibility for overseeing the faculty and all academic programs, as well as the operations of related functions, such as the library and academic advising. He took a break from Saint Leo in 2005 to 2008 to serve as president of Saint Martin’s University, near Olympia, Wash. He returned in 2008 to Saint Leo in time for the fall semester and dove back into teaching. Dr. Astolfi was known as a challenging but supportive teacher and mentor who kept in touch with many of his students, as well as a kind, generous, and witty soul among university colleagues and coworkers. He taught history courses at all levels, and was a specialist in American history and modern Chinese history. He held degrees from Tufts University and the University of Rochester, and he earned his doctorate from Northern Illinois University.
Saint Leo alumna Jackie McKeon ’14, now an advanced placement high school history teacher, recalled Dr. Astolfi as an invaluable influence on her growth as a college student and then as a beginning teacher. He suggested her for a tutoring job on campus and guided her to an internship off-campus at an area museum. She moved to another state upon graduation and took her first teaching job, “with only my experience as Dr. Astolfi’s Supplemental Instructor to back me up. Dr. Astolfi was in constant communication with me my first few months teaching and was always there to offer me sound advice when I was floundering. Often times a subject line of an email from him might read: ‘How are you???’ When I moved back to the Tampa area in 2016, Douglas Astolfi was once again there to help me transition to the next part of my history teaching career.”
There had been a plan for McKeon to get together for dinner with Dr. Astolfi and his wife Betsy in early summer, so she was truly disheartened to learn her mentor had suffered a decline and succumbed to cancer.
“Dr. Astolfi loved his subject, loved his students, and clearly loved and adored his family,” McKeon said. “I know I can attribute so much of who I’ve become as a teacher and as a person to him. He will be deeply missed, but his impact on all those lucky enough to come in contact with him will never be forgotten.”
Dr. Astolfi was pre-deceased by an adult son, Christopher, an MBA alumnus who died in 2016, and by a daughter, Kate, who passed away in childhood from a medical condition.
His survivors include his wife Betsy; son, Drew; daughter, Maggie; daughter-in-law, Iris, who was married to Christopher; and granddaughter, Julia.
His family’s wish is that memorial contributions be made in Douglas Astolfi’s name to the History Program at Saint Leo University. This may be done with a check made payable to Saint Leo University with a notation in memory of Douglas Astolfi on the memo line. Or, make a donation online by visiting the general donation page, your.saintleo.edu/give, and follow prompts to Donate to Academic Excellence. Under the online form area for Additional Information, add a note in the comment box to send the donation on to the History Program/Department, and also enter the name Douglas Astolfi under the online form area marked Tribute Information.
When a date is set for a Mass at University Campus—likely in the fall, the information will be posted in advance on the Saint Leo University Alumni Facebook page.