Everybody loves a good story. Stories often are the bedrock for our beliefs, thoughts, and feelings about people, places, institutions, and causes. As you might imagine, I've been privileged to hear hundreds of wonderful student and alumni stories over the past decade.
While students, faculty, and teachers are critical to the University bedrock, I want to tell you a story about two University staff members who recently came together in an amazing way.
Fran Van Slyke-Zaslofsky began at this University in 1971 and started working with University College (now the College of Continuing Education, CCE) students and financial aid very early in her career. She enjoyed an affinity with these unique individuals who were often non-traditionally aged students. Because the students of this College travel a unique path to get the self-directed interdisciplinary education they need, they often struggle to pay tuition and to stay in school. Fran loved helping these students and loved her work.
As time passed, Fran brought her sons to the University of Minnesota Child Development Center where they spent the days reaping the benefits of activities and approaches coming out of the U's highly regarded Early Childhood Development Lab.
As some of you know firsthand, good day care can help make or break a parent's career. Without it, Fran would not have had the peace of mind and been able to utilize the rigorous work ethic she brought to the job. Nor would she have had such a tremendous impact on thousands of students' lives.
Fast forward to 2012. At the beginning of the CCE Centennial Celebration, just weeks before Fran was going to retire, she received a beautiful wood Regents Chair for her 40th-year anniversary at the University. Fran's gifts of time and treasure along with scholarship contributions made by her peers at the College and other generous donors have again enabled CCE students to be successful and achieve their educational dreams.
Always a believer in paying it forward, days after getting the chair Fran donated it back to CCE to use as a prize for the Centennial drawing. And as 2013 dawned, the winner, chosen at random, was a very nice person named Gloria DeRoode, who got so excited she teared up on the phone when I called with the news. And, guess where Gloria works--the U of M Child Day Care and Development Center, where the chair is now used for staff to rest between running around after the little ones.
I hope and expect these young children will grow up and follow their own paths to good careers and rewarding lives, getting from and giving to the University along their way.
Kathleen Davoli, Director of Development
College of Continuing Education