Professor Rich Hansen leaves behind a legacy of excellence


Rich Hansen was a De Anza College mathematics professor who held multiple positions within the community college Faculty Association and touched all those that were a part of his life. (Photo courtesy of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District)

Autumn Alvarez

Rich Hansen was a man who wore many hats, and –– one might even say –– many plaid, button-up shirts.

As a De Anza College mathematics instructor, president of the Faculty Association and the California Community College Independents among other roles, he was a beloved presence in every room he walked into.

Hansen was a well-versed individual, studying math, physics and his truest passion, history. From Cornell University to the University of Virginia and finally De Anza, he would go on to earn master’s degrees in both math and history.

His enthusiasm for history not only enabled him to combine the subject with his mathematical teachings, but also led him to embrace multiple areas of interest in the way he interacted with students and colleagues. 

Coming to De Anza’s campus in the ‘90s, Hansen was widely known as a people person. His calm, selfless demeanor attracted people and many of those relationships grew into lifelong friendships. 

Hansen was a natural leader who never set out to gain control but instead stood for fairness and understanding in decision-making. This paved the way for his future in union work and his ability to introduce controversial, progressive ideas in a time when they were viewed as radical.

Growing up in New Jersey, Hansen loved surfing and took pride in coming from the same state as Bruce Springsteen. 

Those close to Hansen remember his consistency most of all. His fellow faculty members recall him eating a classic peanut butter sandwich everyday, even with the same brown bag meticulously folded and saved to be reused.

Hansen’s consistency stretched into practices of always having a plaid shirt and spiral notebook at the ready. His attendance at nearly every meeting, whether retired or not, granted Rich the knowledge of the ins and outs of school systems.

With true commitment and connection to countless community college organizations, his influence continues to be seen today.

Those who knew Hansen described him as an authentic being, true to himself, his beliefs and his values. Hansen’s legacy is memorialized by his wife Susan, brothers Peter and Paul, and his nieces and nephews.