News, University News

Community mourns death of undergraduate student

William Povell ’20 remembered as “funny and friendly” computer science mentor, innovator

By
Senior Reporter
Monday, January 28, 2019

William Povell ’20, a computer science concentrator from Baltimore, passed away, wrote Vice President for Campus Life Eric Estes and Dean of the College Rashid Zia in an email  to the University community Monday.

Povell was “deeply immersed in activities across the (computer science) department,” they wrote.

He worked as a Systems Programmer/Operator/Consultant and a teaching assistant for multiple courses. Povell’s interests included machine learning, deep learning, computational linguistics and computer systems, wrote Ugur Cetintemel, professor and department chair of computer science, and Tom Doeppner, associate professor and vice chair of computer science, in an email to members of the computer science department.

“Many people have described Will as a facilitator and teacher: pushing projects forward when they lulled, going to the whiteboard to explain something from a new perspective, summarizing arguments and bringing sides together with attention to detail, wit and a big smile, making debates funny and friendly instead of confrontational,” wrote Cetintemel and Doeppner.

Povell “relished new ideas and experiments,” they continued. He worked “on a project to predict Alzheimer’s disease outcomes from Medicare data (and helped) maintain the open-source SignMeUp app to schedule TA hours for Brown CS classes,” according to the computer science department email.

Povell also mentored high school students through the University’s Google igniteCS chapter, “an initiative aimed at sparking interest in computer science and helping young students to develop skills,” according to the campus-wide email.

The chaplains, faculty and Will’s family will be holding a gathering to remember him on Wednesday, Jan. 30, at 4 p.m. in Leung Family Gallery in the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center, with a reception to follow. The computer science department will create a memorial webpage for Povell, and students are invited to share their memories by emailing jcp@cs.brown.edu.

Resources are also available to support members of the Brown community affected by Povell’s passing through Counseling and Psychological Services, University Chaplains and Student Support Services.