Obituary: Professor Steve Cornwell (1956-2022)
President of IAFOR (2016-2022)
It is with great sadness that we write of the passing of the President of IAFOR, Professor Steve Cornwell, who died of cancer earlier this week in Osaka, Japan. He was Chairman of the International Academic Advisory Board, and a member of the Board of Directors. He was also until March of this year Vice-President of Osaka Jogakuin University. Before moving to Japan and becoming an academic he held a number of management positions in non-profit organisations in the arts and theatre sectors in the United States.
An extremely popular professor, as well as a highly capable senior administrator, Steve Cornwell was one of IAFOR’s earliest and strongest supporters. As a Professor of English and Interdisciplinary Studies he identified strongly with our core mission of encouraging interdisciplinary discussion, facilitating intercultural awareness, and promoting international exchange.
He was a respected academic in the field of English language teaching, holding an MA in English from Wake Forest University, an MFA from Virginia Tech., an MAT from the School for International Training, and an EdD from Temple University. He also taught on the MATESOL program for The New School in New York, and was engaged with teacher professional development both in Japan and abroad, serving in many roles both local and national with the Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT), including three terms on its National Board of Directors, as Director of Programme from 2010 to 2016. He also worked closely with the Bangladesh English Language Teaching Association (BELTA) for several years, jointly putting on professional development events for English teachers in Bangladesh.
From 2009, Professor Cornwell helped nurture and shape IAFOR, bringing to bear a wealth of experience in directing academic institutions, international programmes, and administering NPOs. He helped guide IAFOR’s Osaka conferences from 2010 onwards as the local conference chair, and was a popular face at events, often leading the traditional welcome address, and telling overseas delegates how much better his beloved Osaka was than Tokyo.
A founding member of the International Advisory Board of IAFOR, he became steadily more involved with the organisation over the years. Following the death of the Reverend Professor Stuart Picken in 2016, Steve Cornwell agreed to become the Chair of the restructured International Academic Advisory Board, and President of the organisation.
His input, insight and deliberation was indispensable in guiding IAFOR through challenging times, notably the 2011 earthquake and nuclear crisis, and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Professor Cornwell was an educational leader of great resolve, but with enormous kindness and unwavering integrity. He was a man of great resilience, and despite suffering the tragedy of his wife’s death in 2019, whom he loved dearly, and his own cancer diagnosis, he continued to embrace life with dignity and humour. He was a loyal and true friend to many, seeing and encouraging the best in them.
His memory will live on in the hearts and minds of his many friends and colleagues, and in the thousands of students he taught and inspired.
Chairman and CEO, IAFOR