Richard Moll, an inspiring UW-Madison professor and a product liability expert, died on July 30, 2015 at the hospital after taking a fall at his home.
Moll, who was 79 at his time of death, was a professor emeritus of engineering professional development and materials science and engineering at the College of Engineering. During his 33 years at UW-Madison, he taught various courses in product safety and product liability prevention. His research produced over 12 publications and hundreds of literature series, also organizing various conferences and offering industrial seminars to companies.
After his retirement in 1999, former Assistant Dean of Pre-Engineering Donald C. Woolston said of Moll’s teaching style, “Dick is both earnest and congenial as a teacher—a rare combination of traits. He sees every occasion to teach as an opportunity—not as a duty. In fact, some would say he treats teaching as a performance, which means he works very, very hard to make sure that he is effective and comes across well. Students appreciated his effort and concern for their learning, while colleagues were left wondering, ‘How does he do that?’”
A strong supporter of students and their on and off-campus experiences, Moll and his wife, Pat, started a fund in 2002 called the Dick and Pat Moll Undergraduate Student Activity Fund, which helps support student activities.
Moll’s love for teaching is clear, but on top of his efforts in education, he also consulted companies about product safety procedures and technical literature. He even took his knowledge to the courts, serving as an expert witness in product liability cases.
If the accolades of his peers or the depth of his gestures don’t say enough, Moll also received a National Education Lecture Award from the American Welding Society, the Pi Tau Sigma Distinguished Teaching Award, and the Distinguished Service and Ragnar E. Onstad awards from the college.
The metallurgist and materials scientist earned his BS from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and his MS and PhD from Lehigh University. He and his wife, who died in 2006, married in 1953, and renewed their vows on their 50th anniversary in 2003. The couple has six children.