TA remembered as a gifted, caring person

Andy Dickinson was a TA for the class Democracy and the Other.

Kevin McCahill

Andrew “Andy” Dickinson, a second-year political science graduate student with a love of traveling and learning, died early Monday morning after being hit by a vehicle. He was 30.

His car had run out of gas and he was walking back toward an exit about 5 a.m. Monday when he was struck by a vehicle on Interstate 94 outside Alexandria, said his father, Steve Dickinson.

Andy Dickinson is remembered by his family and friends as a gifted student and great person.

Dickinson grew up in St. Paul and spent his first year of college at the University before transferring to Carleton College in Northfield, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1998, said his mother, University professor Catherine Guisan.

He worked for Walden University in Minneapolis for six years before deciding to return to the University to work on his doctorate.

Dickinson spent this semester as a teaching assistant for his mother in her political science class Democracy and the Other.

“Andrew was a quiet, thoughtful and meditative type that loved sports,” Guisan said. “And he was very scholarly.”

Dickinson could read in French, German and Spanish, she said.

Dickinson turned down an opportunity to study at Duke University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to stay near family and friends in Minnesota and study in a program he considered top-notch, Guisan said.

“He was very well-liked,” Guisan said. “He had many friends.”

While working at the University, Dickinson had asked to work with his mother in the political science class she lectured.

Guisan and Dickinson didn’t make a big deal of their relation in the classroom.

“We had decided to do this very professionally, we didn’t want this to be a family thing,” she said. “If anyone would ask, we would tell them, but no one did. It was a nonissue.”

Guisan said he was a great teaching assistant.

“He was a fantastic TA,” she said. “He kept everything in wonderful order.”

Other graduate students knew Dickinson for his work ethic and love of learning.

Political science graduate student Susan Kang had known Dickinson as long as he had been at the University.

“He was so sweet,” she said. “He was earnest and caring and was very interested in learning. He was an enthusiastic scholar; anyone could talk to him.”

Political science graduate student Anthony Pahnke said Dickinson was an interesting person who was always interested in traveling.

Dickinson had spent time around Europe and was planning a trip with Pahnke to Brazil.

“He’s really going to be missed,” Kang said. “He was loved by all of us.”

Kang described him as a student of the world.

“He’d be at school when I thought no one would still be there,” Kang said. “He was dedicated to his students and to his research. He was open-minded to going places and doing new things.”

Dickinson was preparing work in his dissertation on political theory and international relations. He had no career goal in mind, but was open to anything, Guisan said.

“He had kindness and compassion,” Guisan said. “He was brilliant but not pretentious.”

Besides his parents, Dickinson had a brother who lives in the Netherlands.

A memorial is planned for 3 p.m. Saturday, May 6, at the House of Hope Church at 797 Summit Ave. in St. Paul. A scholarship fund will be set up in his name, Guisan said.