San Diego State University Tuesday confirmed the death of professor Michael J. Buono, who contracted Legionella pneumonia in February.
Buono, who was a faculty member in the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences and a member of the SDSU community for more than 40 years, died Saturday.
He was the only person with a confirmed case of the illness — also known as Legionnaire’s disease — on campus, which necessitated a closure of the Exercise and Nutritional Sciences building on Feb. 13.
His family described him as “a wonderful husband, father, brother, son and friend who lived a life full of curiosity, eagerness, kindness, and who had a genuine desire to help all of those around him achieve their very best,” according to a university statement.
Close colleagues and friends said Buono was “great at seeing the big picture and appreciating life,” adding that he cared greatly about students and was recognized by many as “the best teacher I ever had.”
About his own teaching philosophy, Buono wrote: “As an educator, I value creative thinking almost as much as content mastery. I want students to value their own ability to think creatively, and I encourage them to use novel ways to demonstrate their knowledge.”
“The world and our SDSU community won’t be the same without Dr. Buono,” read a joint statement from Provost Salvador Hector Ochoa, Vice President for Research and Innovation Hala Madanat and Professor and Director of the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences Matthew T. Mahar. “Our hearts go out to his family, friends, colleagues and the many students whose lives he touched through his decades of teaching and mentorship.”
Due to employee confidentiality, the university was previously unable to confirm the identity of the campus community member diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.
SDSU leadership encouraged grieving campus community members to use support services including counseling support for students at counseling and psychological services, and confidential support for faculty and staff through the employee assistance program.
City News Service contributed to this article.