Archive for Wednesday, February 27, 2008

One of KU’s everyday heroes

February 27, 2008


Today I want to talk about someone at Kansas University who didn't go to Miami, isn't going to cure cancer or AIDS, and won't be quoted in the national media. She's simply a good teacher, a good scholar, and a good colleague. She's typical of KU faculty who are here because they're committed to the importance of public education and who believe that working at a university is a form of public service.

This colleague of mine, who is too modest for me to mention her name, has been at KU for more than 20 years. During those years she's taught thousands of students. She's advised hundreds of those thousands. She comes in early in the morning and often stays until after dark. So far as I know, she's never sought any preferential treatment for herself and never complained about her salary. She cares about her students and her colleagues.

Like so many of the faculty and staff at KU, this particular colleague is an ordinary person with a life off the Hill. She's addicted to the Kansas City Royals, even in the years when they don't win. Every week, she helps an elderly woman in Lawrence do her shopping. She cares about politics and making the United States and Kansas better places. She loves to travel. She's been to Africa and Asia. When her nephew graduated from college, she took him to Africa so that he could see that not everyone in the world lives as well as we do here in the United States and so that she could instill in him a sense of service to others less fortunate.

Even more remarkable is what she does quietly, without fanfare or any desire for credit or publicity. Over the years she has sent money to Africa so that teenagers could attend high school. A number of years ago, on a trip to Nepal, she discovered that many families in Nepal could not afford to send their daughters to school. When she found out that this was true of her guide and his family, she undertook to send them money every year so that their daughter could get an education. When this young woman graduated from high school in Nepal, she paid for her to come to Kansas.

During the past two years, this young woman has been studying at Johnson County Community College, supported by my colleague, with whom she lives. Last week, she turned 21 and was formally admitted to KU to finish her undergraduate degree. My colleague isn't rich. She lives modestly. But she has spent literally thousands of dollars helping young people get an education. Why? Because she's a good person.

The woman I've described here isn't unique at KU. The university is filled with people who love teaching and research and who believe in the crucial importance of education. They aren't here for the salary or the perquisites. They don't get a great deal of publicity or show up on the university Web page. But they are the heart and soul of KU. They are what makes this a great university. It's important that we not forget that.

- Mike Hoeflich, a distinguished professor in the KU School of Law, writes a regular column for the Journal-World.


Alison Carter 10 years, 2 months ago

Bravo! your colleague. Her life is probably much more personally fullfilling than many who seek reassurance through press releases and headlines.

zephyrma52 10 years, 2 months ago

This wonderful woman is my sister, and I am very proud of her. Not only did she take my oldest son to Africa, she took my youngest son to China and Tibet when he graduated. She is paying the tuition for her Nepalese "daughter" to go to college, but also for her younger sister to go to school in Nepal. If his visa is approved, her brother may be here in a little while, too. She has co-signed the loans for my oldest son's medical school education. She has been very active in Lawrence in the battered women's shelter, and, with her spiritual community, in feeding the hungry. As for her students, she will do anything to help them succeed. All they need to do is ask--and she makes herself very available. She is just about the smartest person I know, too. What might surprise you is that when I am with her, we usually fall on the floor laughing at something totally silly. She is my rock. Thank you, Mike. You couldn't have picked a better subject!

sbfrmsmallworld 10 years, 2 months ago

I dont think there is enough good words in this world to describe the person whom everyone is talking about in this column, and I guess no one can feel it and realize it how important she is in someone's life and universe better than me. I think if there would be a single word to represent the best mother in the world, then she would inherit the word, that is how meaningful she is in my life. Thank you very much Professor Hoeflich and I appreciate your time and effort, you put on this article about her.

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