Distinguished professor of art history Dr. David L. Craven, 60, died Saturday from an apparent heart attack while playing tennis, his family said.

Craven became a professor at UNM in 1993 and was the fine arts department chair for two years. He published 10 books and more than 150 articles in scholarly journals.

A memo­r­ial ser­vice is planned for Craven on Fri­day at 2 p.m. at UNM’s Alumni Chapel.

Nancy Treviso, an administrator in the art and art history department, said the department has lost a unique professor.
“He was a wonderful chair and a wonderful mentor and teacher and he will be missed in this department,” she said. “Someone with that caliber of knowledge, we can’t replace him.”

Craven received his distinguished professor title in 2007 while at UNM. He was fluent in four languages and traveled the world giving speeches at more than 100 universities.

Kirsten Buick, asso­ciate pro­fes­sor and chair at the art and art history department, said Craven was known around the world for his work in the art history field.

“David was a man of let­ters and a cham­pion for social causes, beloved by all who knew him for his keen intel­lect, gen­uine sense of compas­sion and desire to help oth­ers,” Buick told UNM Today. “He was rec­og­nized by his peers as one of the most informed and inci­sive art his­to­ri­ans in the world.”

Theresa Avila, a graduate student at UNM, said she studied under Craven for the past 10 years and is shocked by the loss.

“I’m devastated; as a professor I considered him to be generous and supportive and he is irreplaceable,” she said. “The fact that this happened, I don’t think anybody anticipated or prepared for it.”

Avila will be graduating in May with a doctorate in art history specializing in Mexican art, and said she plans to finish her degree as a tribute to Craven.

“I am going to try and work towards (graduating) in his honor,” she said. “I am just really sad he won’t be able to see me reach our goal.”