In Memoriam

Filed under Grab Bag | Posted by PMStudent

Every once and awhile someone touches your life in a significant way, and you are never the same after.

Brian Bernhard ?is one of those people for me.

Brian was my favorite professor while I was at university, and taught me a lot more than just project management. ?Since my graduation I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Brian over coffee many times and count him as a friend. ?Travis Anderson is a guest author for pmStudent and sat in many of Brian’s classes with me, and shared several of those conversations over coffee with us as well.

Years ago I wrote a post in gratitude for the people who had major influences on me at the time. ?Brian is at the top of the list right below my family.

Brian Bernhard, P.E. ? Professor
-for being my favorite project management professor and turning me on to Critical Chain project management; for sharing his wisdom, enthusiasm, encouragement and teaching in a way that encourages independent thought and innovation

Brian passed away August 8th, 2009. ?I found out today and am reeling.

This post is a way for me to honor ?his memory and work through some of the emotions and loss I’m feeling right now.

Brian A. Bernhard, P.E.

Brian A. Bernhard, P.E.

Brian lived with a contagious vitality and spirit. His optimism and ability to see the best in people made him an inspiration to me. Those of us who had the honor of knowing Brian are richer for it.

The Amazing Teacher

As a professor, I remember Brian for his ability to stimulate critical thinking skills in his students and guide us through a process of self-discovery and group achievment instead of spoon-feeding information. ?Many of my classmates could be heard grumbling “Why won’t he just tell us what to do?” and similar expressions of frustration at having to figure things out for themselves.

I myself was frustrated at first with his approach, but midway through my first course with him I started to understand what he was doing. ?Even if others didn’t come to appreciate his technique, they certainly internalized more knowledge because of his methods.

I rail on from time to time about how important it is to understand project management concepts and why you are doing them before getting too involved with the tactical business of tools. ?Brain was the one who instilled that in me, ?and he was the one who guided me through doing my first project network, forward and backwards pass, etc. ?All by hand in this age of software tools. ?I can pick up any PM software tool rather quickly now because of ?how he helped ?me internalize the concepts behind the tools.

He taught everything that way, and I’m a better project ?manager because of it. ?Brian certainly had a profound impact on me in terms of how I manage projects and people.


Brian, I’ve always held you in the highest regard and I learned a lot more than project management from you. You taught me a great deal about how to create a life of significance, how to connect with people and provide servant leadership.

You will be missed.