Political science Lecturer Douglas Robert Pierce taught both undergraduate and graduate courses at Cal Poly, some of his favorites being political psychology, politics and popular culture and political communication, according to a Dec. 8 email sent to University employees.
Pierce died by suicide in his San Luis Obispo home on Dec. 5.
Pierce, 43, is survived by his daughter and son, Persephone and Wolfgang; brothers Dennis and Andrew; sisters Denise and Patricia and his parents, Patricia and Dennis.
For political science junior Chloe Bonini, Pierce changed how she viewed political science. Bonini said his classroom was a welcoming place, where informative discussions thrived and Pierce’s ability to keep students engaged and excited could not go unnoticed.
“His curriculum really supports growth in every student and he genuinely cares about that growth, so that was really wonderful,” Bonini said.
Pierce focused more on the knowledge gained than the grade received, which political science junior Sophie Moore said she and her peers appreciated, especially during the pandemic.
Moore, like other students, said she would wait to take a class until Pierce was scheduled to teach it. She said there aren’t many professors that students would do that for.
“The fact that there are people who did that, and I did that myself, I think just really speaks to how much he meant to people,” Moore said.
Pierce joined Cal Poly’s Political Science Department full-time in 2017, according to the University email.
“His colleagues appreciated his humor, kindness and his commitment to the department,” President Jeffrey Armstrong and Provost Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore wrote in the email. “Doug was always quick to lift others up, to offer advice and to help out wherever he could.”
Pierce earned his Ph.D. in political science from Rutgers University. He went on to publish articles including “Uninformed Votes? Reappraising Information Effects and Presidential Preferences” and “Polarization and Correct Voting in US Presidential Elections.”
Beyond his work, Pierce enjoyed drumming, trivia, karaoke, gaming and reading.
“Doug enjoyed getting together with friends for quiz nights, happy hours, or any other reason to make people laugh and greet them with a big smile,” Pierce’s memorial page reads.
Pierce had a “lifelong battle with depression,” according to the memorial page.
Pierce’s family requests contributions to the college funds of his children, Persephone and Wolfgang, in lieu of flowers. A gathering will be planned once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Cal Poly students can call the University’s 24-hour counseling line at (805) 756-2511 or visit the Campus Health & Wellbeing Counseling Services website for more information.
The Employee Assistance Program offers confidential counseling services to Cal Poly employees and their families through their 24-hour hotline, (800) 367-7474.