Dean and Edward E. Elson Professor at the School of Architecture
My two younger sisters and I were raised by a single mother who worked nights as a nurse. Not surprisingly, she embodied the characteristics and qualities of so many who are in the nursing profession – deep empathy, a commitment to advocacy on behalf of others, and caring for the well-being of all. I believe that these qualities, coupled with her lived experience as a Black woman who both witnessed and faced structural inequities in her life, are some of the reasons why my mother impressed upon me the power and purpose of giving back. She always stressed the importance of education as a conduit for making a positive impact in the world. I have focused my career on addressing the challenges of health, well-being and equity, in the built environment and in higher education, because my mother taught me the value of advocating for, caring for and lifting others through our contributions to society.
School of Nursing Senior Assistant Dean for Academic and Student Services
My mama taught me that love is unconditional, not by saying it out loud, but by showing it. Mama believed we could do anything, and no matter what we did, she would be proud. She encouraged me, my siblings, even my daddy, to pursue our dreams. She didn’t put any restrictions or rules on her love or her approval. When I talk about providing holistic support to students, that is where it comes from for me. Being there for my students. Ensuring them they belong here. Celebrating when they achieve, but providing the tissues and open heart when they fail. I learned that from my mama, and I try to practice it every single day.
Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy Dean and Professor of Practice of Public Policy
My mom was an artist. She was a painter. She was always painting my whole life. She ended up dying in 2016 after three years of battling ovarian cancer. I used to visit her down in Florida. Nothing brought her more joy than teaching painting in her garden and having people come over and paint. In the beginning, she could still paint along with them. By the end, she couldn’t do very much, but she still loved having people come over to paint. So, I would come down and paint. I actually gave a whole commencement address about her painting lessons at the University of Chicago. We would go for a long walks on the beach near her house. We talked about painting. We talked about life, we talked about spirituality, many things. One of her pieces of advice to me during one of these walks along the beach was that you have to be the artist of your own life, and you have to paint the canvas of your life. To me, that was kind of really profound and valuable and I’ve taught classes on that.