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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Remembering William Stapleton

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A portrait of Texas State engineering professor William Stapleton who died Jan. 16, 2023. 

Room 2209 of Bruce and Gloria Ingram Hall is not a conventional office. Miscellaneous electronics are stacked to the ceiling and half-finished projects and books cover any available desk space. For nearly a month this room has laid dormant. Students no longer fill the space to ask their questions and the smiling face of professor William Stapleton no longer occupies the room.
Stapleton, a professor of the Texas State Ingram School of Engineering, died of an unexpected heart attack on Jan. 16, leaving a void in the classrooms and offices of Bruce and Gloria Ingram Hall and in the hearts of the students and colleagues who knew him.
Stapleton had a massive influence on the culture of the Ingram School of Engineering, teaching several electrical engineering and computer engineering classes and playing an important role in developing and accrediting the degrees offered by the college.
Harold Stern, a professor in the electrical engineering program and Stapleton’s colleague, said without Stapleton, the computer engineering degree would not exist and Texas State would be significantly weaker without his contributions.
“He was a very optimistic individual and basically helped form a student-centered culture,” Stern said. “A lot of what you see in electrical engineering is part of the culture that he developed and that spreads throughout the school.”
Stapleton grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where his father taught electrical engineering at the University of Alabama. His father’s career inspired Stapleton to also become an electrical engineering professor. Stapleton received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Alabama where he taught until 2007 when he left to teach at the Texas State Ingram School of Engineering.
Stapleton had osteomyelitis in his lower legs, making it necessary for him to use a wheelchair, which he never let slow him down. He was known to always be on time and to always be able to help his colleagues and students with whatever they needed. He once requested to use a lab space to do maintenance on his wheelchair so he didn’t need to take the day off.
“I want to say that I think he was the most punctual professor I have seen in this university,” Clara Novoa, professor and industrial engineering program coordinator, said. “One semester I was teaching, and he was teaching after me. My class was ending at 9:50 and at 9:40 he was ready in front of the door.”
Stapleton published many scholarly works researching sensors, computer architecture, embedded systems and more. He was a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and received an IEEE best paper award in 2009. In 2014, he was awarded the Texas State Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching for his accomplishments.
Stapleton’s time at the University of Alabama made him a great accreditation consultant for the Ingram School of Engineering. He wrote the reports for the accreditation of the manufacturing engineering program in 2011 and his guidance influenced the way that the faculty have written every accreditation paper since then. His name is also well-known throughout the civil engineering program where he helped in the hiring process and played a crucial role in upholding the standards of the Ingram School of Engineering.
“In a lot of ways he helped us establish our own identity,” Stern said. “He helped us basically stand our ground and develop and be much stronger, much quicker than what you would expect in a new organization.”
Outside of his career, Stapleton loved concerts and visiting his family in Alabama. He also loved to travel to national parks and historical sites. He would send photos of his adventures to his colleagues, who said they would feel like they were there with him.
He would often invite colleagues to get food or drinks after work and would plan social events and mixers with the other professors to ensure that they were connected. With Stapleton’s kind and outgoing personality, he turned his coworkers into his friends.
“He was a born teacher, and a born friend,” Stern said.
Stapleton’s biggest contribution to the Ingram School of Engineering was his kind and positive attitude. He was known most for his smile and how he would always be genuinely interested in his colleagues’ lives. His office was consistently full of students asking for advice, even those who were not enrolled in the classes he taught. He was known to be patient and take the time to answer every student’s concerns.
“When I told the students [of Stapleton’s death] some cried, and that shows us his impact and what we are missing,” Semih Aslan, the electrical engineering program coordinator said. “I will be sorry for the future students that aren’t going to be able to know him.”

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