LASTING LESSONS • Fall 2000
Washington University's superb teachers have changed the lives of the students who have learned from them. Here, three alumni describe faculty whose lessons will last a lifetime.

Gary D. Shackelford, M.D. '68, Professor of Radiology

Hamid Latifi: "Everyone needs a role model, and Gary Shackelford is mine!

"Gary's a tremendous guy to be around. He not only has an established academic reputation and is well respected in the radiology community, but he's a genuine person, a humane person. He was a friend, not just a teacher.

"To this day, when I interact with a patient, I have Gary in mind: how gentle he was, the human touch he had, how he treated the kids as though they were his own. As one of the teachers in the pediatric radiology program, he would come in and help us out initially. If we had trouble locating the fracture on a hand, for example, he would examine that little hand ever so gently to see where it was hurting. Radiology is not a specialty in which you spend a lot of time interacting with patients—you spend most of your time looking at X-rays—but he was really something to see.

"His interaction with residents and students was extraordinary, too. I don't think I ever saw him mad. He was never negative or condescending. I think it's hard not to have an ego at his level, but despite his remarkable accomplishments, he is humble and down to earth.

"Also, Gary had time for us. If we had problems, we could go into his office at any time—his door was always open. He is an exceptional role model, teacher, and friend."

Hamid Latifi, M.D. '90, is clinical assistant professor of radiology and head of the Nuclear Medicine Section at Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine.

 


 

Leslie Laskey, Professor Emeritus of Architecture

Jeffrey Oakes: "Within a month of returning to St Louis to get my master's degree in architecture, I was introduced to Leslie Laskey, a legend who changed my life. Even though he's [now] emeritus, he continues to touch lives. Last summer I had an amazing experience spending a week drawing and painting with him, which was the greatest gift I could ever have.

"As a teacher, Leslie has a way of pushing people. He lets you discover things for yourself, giving you just enough information to let you struggle. But it's never mattered to him where you started—it's where you go. 'What's the thought process? How or what were you thinking when you started? It's not what you produce—it's the thinking behind it.'

"Recently I spoke to Leslie, and he immediately asked: 'Are you drawing?' Of course I replied that I'm too busy, with a new job, etc., and he said: 'Jeff, that's where the answers are.' He doesn't mean right or wrong. For him it's about the process. Through experimenting with the medium, you discover things about yourself, about your beliefs, about how you think, by how you see something. It's about taking a risk, about not getting too comfortable. You learn by your mistakes and by documenting the process. You do it over and over. The design process is universal.

"It is truly a gift to be able to teach like that. Leslie's 80 this year and still discovering, never doing things the same. He produces so much! I have some of his pieces around my house. On waking each morning, they fill me with the hope that I might pass some of what I had the privilege of learning from him along to the younger designers I work with."

Jeffrey Oakes, A.B. '82, M.Arch. '93, is design manager for Gap International in Europe and Asia.

 


 

Hans Falck, Professor Emeritus of Social Work

Katherine D. Kingsbury: "Hans Falck was my group work professor during my two years at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work in the early '60s. He was fascinating, challenging, and thought-provoking. We students rarely missed one of his classes, and he was always available for conferences outside of class.

"Falck's thinking was broad. It was not just about group work or techniques but was about the field of social work, people, relationships, values, and ethics. It wasn't the superficial 'How to ' but the deeper 'Why? What for?' and 'How come?'

"Having worked most of my life in a variety of professional settings, I did not know how much he had shaped my thinking until I went to an NASW [National Association of Social Workers] conference in Boston in 1990. It was an excellent conference, and I attended many classes. On the last afternoon while I was leafing through the conference brochure waiting for my last session to begin, I noticed Falck was scheduled to speak at that very same time in another building. I could not bear to miss hearing my favorite professor once again, so I quietly gathered my belongings and scurried over to his room.

"As I heard him speak, 25-plus years after having been in school, I realized where so many of my ideas had come from—ideas such as 'all behavior is meaningful' and 'start where the client is.' I realized how much he had helped shape who I am as a social worker. Thank you Professor Falck!"

Katherine D. Kingsbury, M.S.W. '64, is a school social worker in Clinton, Connecticut.