Byrne Hall

Byrne Hall
The Academy building was turned over to DePaul University, and renamed Byrne Hall. Bygone DePaul | Special Collections & Archives


About the DePaul Emeritus Society

DePaul University values its ongoing connections with its faculty and staff retirees, as it values their past contributions to the university’s mission. The DePaul University Emeritus Society was founded in 2008 with the merger of the Staff Emeritus Society and the Emeritus Professors Association. The Society is sponsored by the University’s Office of Mission and Values.

The purpose of the DePaul Emeritus Society is to provide a means for ongoing connection, communication, and socialization between the university and its emeritus faculty and staff, and between individual retirees whose professional lives were for so many years dedicated to university service.

Photos, events, and information of interest to members of the DePaul Emeritus Society will be posted to this blog. Please take a look, add your comment, offer to be an "author" or just enjoy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

In Memoriam - Frank Wukitsch

April 18, 1941 - January 26, 2021

Frank E. Wukitsch, 79, passed away on January 26, 2021 in Geneva. Frank was born on April 18, 1941 in Chicago to Frank and Dorothy (nee Schlesser) Wukitsch. He was united in marriage to Susan (Bonnie) Zimmerman on April 30, 1968 in Basel, Switzerland.

Frank will be remembered for his love for his family, the theatre and old tools.  Frank’s father, a tool and die man for the Chicago Stockyards, instilled a love for woodworking and tools at a young age.  Frank would often go with his father to job sites and learned woodworking from a master.  After four years in the army (stationed in Germany), Frank went to work for the Raytheon Company working on missiles.  While in Germany, Frank and Susan were introduced by a mutual friend and were married two months later in Basel, Switzerland.    Returning to the United States, Frank received a Masters Degree in Theatre and went on to teach theatre at the Latin School in Chicago and The Goodman School of Drama/The Theatre School- DePaul University.  His many students talk of his “quiet but powerful sense of calm and generous heart” and his giving of his sandwiches is legendary.   

Frank instilled in his young children a love of the arts, and specifically, the theatre.  Many a weekend was spent on the train going into Chicago to see one of the children’s shows at the Goodman Theatre and later The Theatre School- DePaul University.  Lisa and Gil carry on that love of the arts and the theatre in their jobs as music teachers, pit orchestra directors, and drama directors.

After his retirement, Frank and Susan could be found antiquing, always bringing home that “new” antique tool or another book or piece of china.  Frank volunteered with Preservation Partners of Fox Valley, helping to restore some of the old machinery and giving tool talks to weekend visitors.  Frank spent time with his adult children, helping Lisa to build scenery for her school and helping Gil to rebuild his old barn.  Frank enjoyed visiting the farm animals with his granddaughter, Ava, and talking Legos with his grandson, Grant.

Frank leaves behind his wife, Susan, his children, Lisa (Chris) Wukitsch and Gil (Danielle),Wukitsch, his grandchildren, Ava Wukitsch and Grant Wukitsch, his brothers, Tom (Margaret) Wukitsch and Bob (Barbara) Wukitsch, his sister, Lori (Nick) D’Asta, many cousins, numerous nieces and nephews, many friends, and countless students.

Frank is preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Dorothy Wukitsch, and his stepmother, Grace Wukitsch (nee LeBanco).

All services will be private.

In honor of Frank, please consider a donation to Preservation Partners of Fox Valley or The Theatre School- DePaul University (Wukitsch Spare Sandwich) Scholarship Fund .

Arrangements entrusted to Moss Family Funeral Home St. Charles 630-584-2000 or

Source: Moss Funeral Home, accessed April 20, 2021

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Book Club, April 7

Opinions were divided during our discussion of Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House. Some readers responded enthusiastically to the rich characterizations and family dynamics in the novel, while others found the characters’ obsessions with the house itself a puzzle or a limitation.  Our conversation started with an observation that the novel is narrated entirely by Danny Conroy, yet it is dominated by women and their concerns.  We considered the relationship of sister and brother, Maeve and Danny.  Maeve’s insistence that Danny attend medical school, to spend down the inheritance that would otherwise go to the children of Andrea, their stepmother, seems an elaborate kind of vengeance.  While the banishment of Maeve and Danny by their stepmother from the house (and Maeve’s response) seemed rather unconvincing to many of us, others saw it as one of many borrowings in the novel from fairy tales; at various points, the novel seems to echo tales of wicked stepmothers, children left to find their way in the forest, and magical castles.  

The Dutch House itself evoked a range of reflections and comments.  The role of the large front windows, both architecturally and as an ironic “transparence,” led to observations about actual Dutch houses and the odd presence of the original Dutch inhabitants through their portraits and possessions.  The servants who seem almost part of the furnishings, starting with Fluffy, were all richly drawn and interesting in themselves.  Andrea’s obsession with the house, and Maeve’s persistent return to watch the house from outside, suggested its power. Only when a party given by the new owner, Danny's daughter, celebrates new beginnings, does the house appear to have found its rightful owner.  The family, despite Maeve’s death, also appears more coherent in those final scenes, though the novel’s ending remains ambiguous.

Our next book will be The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David Mccullough. We will meet via Zoom on Wednesday, June 2. Meeting starts at 11 am Chicago time. However, the Zoom link will be open at 10:30, to make sure everyone can  establish a good connection.

Please contact Kathryn DeGraff or Helen Marlborough if you have any questions.

We enjoy catching up with our former colleagues and enjoy welcoming new members to the group. Zoom meetings have provided a great way for colleagues not in the immediate vicinity of the Lincoln Park Campus to participate. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

In Memoriam - John Kordek


Ambassador John F. Kordek (Ret.)  of Arlington Heights

Retired U.S. Ambassador John F. Kordek was born on June 9, 1938, in Chicago, Illinois, to John and Harriet (nee Rogalski) Kordek. He died Tuesday, February 16, 2021, at home with his loving wife by his side.

Following graduation from Weber H.S., he joined the U.S. Air Force and served four years on active duty with the Strategic Air Command (SAC) 818th Air Division of the 8th U.S. Air Force.

When he completed his active military service, he graduated from DePaul University with a PhB in 1964. Kordek is also a graduate of the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University. The Ambassador also studied at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and graduated from three languages (Serbo-Croat, Polish, and Spanish) and area studies programs from the State Department's U.S. Foreign Service Institute.

Recruited while a college senior at DePaul for the U.S. Foreign Service. He worked for 26 years with the USIA, ICA, and the U.S. State Department, attaining the rank of Career Minister and then U.S. Ambassador.

Kordek served in Serbia, Croatia, Italy, Belgium, Poland, Venezuela, Botswana, and Washington D.C. He also worked in numerous other countries as part of official U.S. foreign policy and public diplomacy delegations. One of his first jobs in the Foreign Service in 1965 was to escort Louis Armstrong, who was visiting the former Yugoslavia as part of the U.S. State Department Cultural program overseas.

Ambassador Kordek held many senior positions in the U.S. Foreign Service, including Acting Deputy Ambassador DCM) at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw during the rise to power of the Solidarity movement and the visits of Pope John Paul II to Poland.

During President Reagan's presidency, Kordek was the USIA Director of European Affairs and then the Counselor of the Agency, the highest career official in USIA.

He participated in the Geneva and Reykjavik summit meetings between President Reagan and Soviet leader Gorbachev and numerous international negotiations, including those with the Soviet Union, Poland, Germany, and other countries.

President Reagan nominated Kordek as a U.S. Ambassador in 1988, and the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed him. During the Reagan Administration, he briefed senior officials, including Vice President Bush, and participated in several key National Security Council meetings at the White House chaired by the president.

During his foreign service career, Kordek was nominated for diplomatic positions by every American president, from Lyndon B. Johnson to Bill Clinton.

Following his retirement from the U.S. Foreign Service, Kordek joined DePaul University, where he worked for 15 years as Associate Vice President and taught courses on WWII and the Holocaust. He also lectured at many universities and organizations.

President Clinton, in 1995, appointed Kordek to two five-year terms to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council in Washington, which oversees the operations of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Kordek served on the Council's Executive Committee and the Committee on Conscience, which monitors genocide worldwide.

Clinton also selected Ambassador Kordek to be a member of the U.S. presidential delegations to commemorate the 50th anniversaries of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the 1945 liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau NAZI death camps. He traveled with, among others, on these delegations with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel.

Kordek is the recipient of many honors, including a presidential award from President Reagan for "..., sustained superior conduct of U.S. foreign policy"; Distinguished and Superior Honor Awards from the State Department, ICA, and USIA.

The Ambassador is also the recipient of the "Via Sapientiae Award," DePaul University's highest faculty-staff honor. It was awarded to Kordek for his work to educate generations of students and faculty "....about the horrors of bigotry and the promotion of the value of dignity and respect for all people."

Ambassador Kordek served on several boards of directors when he returned home to Illinois, including the Illinois Humanities Council and the Chicago International Visitors Center. He chaired the Chicago-Warsaw Sister Cities program and was co-chair of the National Polish American - Jewish American National Council.

Kordek is a world traveler. His foreign service assignments took him to the four corners of the world. In retirement, he and his wife continued their travels visiting all the earth's continents. He loved opera, classical music, and jazz. And was a voracious reader of world history.

John is survived by his spouse of 56 years, Alice (nee Kleczynski); son Andrew (Elizabeth) Kordek; daughter Catherine (Lynn) Stover; grandchildren Joshua Kordek, Henry Stover, and Will Stover; brother Phillip (Theresa) Kordek and sister Judy (Chester) Pasowicz.

A Memorial Service for John will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial may be given to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Funeral Information and condolences can be given at or (847) 253-0168.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Book Club February 3

 We had a lively discussion of Caste. Many found the work powerful and compelling, but less informative than Wilkerson's earlier The Warmth of Other Suns. We applauded her use of compelling personal stories and analogies that lent force to her analysis. Her comparison of the problem of caste as the weak foundation of the house of American society helped highlight the need to confront and understand systemic racism. And the account of the black schoolboy denied the use of the local swimming pool brought home the thoughtless cruelty of racist culture. Some noted problems with the parallels drawn between the Nazi "final solution", the Indian caste system, and American racism, seeing critical differences between these three systems. Others noted that the term "caste" could equally apply to ethnic distinctions and was used too broadly here. We identified some instances of superficial source material, but agreed that the younger readers could read and learn from Caste. We agreed that all readers could take away valuable lessons and new awareness from this work.

Our next book will be The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. We will meet via Zoom on Wednesday, April 7. Meeting starts at 11 am. However, the Zoom link will be open at 10:30, to make sure everyone can  establish a good connection.

Please contact Kathryn DeGraff or Helen Marlborough if you have any questions.

We enjoy catching up with our former colleagues and enjoy welcoming new members to the group. Zoom meetings have provided a great way for colleagues not in the immediate vicinity of the Lincoln Park Campus to participate. 


Sunday, February 14, 2021

In Memoriam - Donald Banik

Don Banik worked in Security at the Lewis Center. He always had a smile on his face. Rest in peace, Don.

Donald J. Banik, US Army Veteran, at rest February 10th at age of 86; Beloved husband and best friend of Mary Ann, nee Wowczuk for over 54 years; Loving dad of Michelle (Ed) Snorewicz, Dawn (Jim) Cooke, Maribeth (Nicole) Conway, Donald (Collen) Rost Banik and David Banik; Cherished grandpa of Emily, Jacob, Matthew, John and Danny; Fond brother of Dolores (late Stanley) Koslowski; Dear brother-in-law of Collette (late Robert) Kampendahl; also survived by many nieces, nephews, cousins, extended family and friends. Visitation Monday, February 15th from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Curley Funeral Home, (Kubina-Tybor Directors), 6116 W. 111th Street, Chicago Ridge. Family and friends will gather on Tuesday, February 16th at St. Linus Church, 10300 S. Lawler, Oak Lawn for 11:00 a.m. Mass. Private interment at Good Shepherd Cemetery. Due to Covid concerns social distancing rules will be observed and masks are required. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate considering a memorial donation in Don’s name to St. Linus’ St. Vincent de Paul Society preferred. For Funeral info 708-422-2700, or

To send a message to the Banik family or share condolences:

Source: Chicago Tribune, February 14, 2021, page 33

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

In Memoriam - John R. Watts


Dr. John Ransford Watts Passes at Age 90 

Former dean of The Theatre School was instrumental in move of Goodman School of Drama to  DePaul University 

CHICAGO — Dr. John Ransford Watts, dean of The Theatre School at DePaul University from  1979 to 1999, died December 14 in Mundelein, IL. He was 90 years old. 

Watts, a teacher, designer, director, and scholar, was recruited as dean and charged with  reestablishing the famed Goodman School of Drama after its move to DePaul University from  the department of drama at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1978. Over the next 20 years, Watts  reshaped The Theatre School at DePaul into one of the premiere conservatory theatre training  programs in the country. 

“Watts’ work to secure the position of the school within DePaul, attract high-quality staff and  faculty, and develop a sophisticated curriculum made top 10 conservatory rankings, our new  facilities, and amazing alumni accomplishments possible,” explained current Theatre School  Dean John Culbert. 

Many of the programs and activities Watts put in place have become traditions at The Theatre  School: regional auditions, annual touring graduate showcases, and discussions with visiting  artists. He also started the Annual Awards for Excellence in the Arts gala in 1989, which has  generated more than $7 million for scholarships to date. In 1988, Watts was instrumental in  orchestrating DePaul’s acquisition of the historic Blackstone Theatre, now known as the Merle  Reskin Theatre, in Chicago’s South Loop. 

Watts maintained a distinguished and productive association with the performing arts,  humanities, and higher education in Massachusetts, California, and Illinois. He earned an  undergraduate degree and a Master of Education degree from Boston College, a Master of Fine  Arts degree from Yale University, and a doctorate from Union Graduate College. He completed  post-graduate work at Harvard, UCLA, and Oxford. For 15 years he served on the faculty of the  School for the Arts at Boston University as Professor of Theatre, and for five years as associate  dean. He was appointed as the founding chairman of the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and  Humanities, serving in that position for four years. 

In 1974, he accepted a one-year guest artist appointment to the faculty of the School of Fine  Arts at California State University, Long Beach, which led to his becoming a tenured professor,  associate dean, and then dean of the school. While in California he helped found and served as  director and vice president of the Public Corporation for the Arts. 

In 2000, John Watts received a lifetime achievement award from the Joseph Jefferson  Committee “for development and support of theatre artists and the Chicago theatre community  during his almost two decades as Dean of the Theatre School/DePaul University.” That same 

year, he also received the Via Sapientiae Award from DePaul University, its highest recognition  for excellent service and accomplishment. 

John and Joyce Watts were recognized in June 2018 in a naming ceremony of the Dr. John R. and  Joyce L. Watts Theatre, a 250-seat thrust theatre located on the first floor of The Theatre  School’s artistic home on the Lincoln Park campus. The Watts’ family also generously endowed a  scholarship supporting students in the playwriting program in 2006.  

“John Watts’ inspired leadership for the first two decades of The Theatre School’s life at DePaul  University built the foundation upon which all that we now do rests,” said John Culbert. “His  legacy will live on through the students, faculty, and staff who would not be here today without  his vision for the school.” 

John is survived by his wife of 45 years, Joyce L. Watts, and his son, David Watts.

Source: Joyce Watts, December 16, 2020

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Book Club December 2

Our discussion of Pachinko  covered several topics, following the saga of a Korean family from the annexation of Korea by Japan in 1910 through 1989. We got a sense of the lives of Koreans under Japanese rule in their own land as well as their place as second class citizens in Japan to this day. The story is that of a struggle for survival, but includes issues of caste, racial prejudice, survival during war, and the role chance has in individual lives. While covering these and other topics, the story centers on Sunja and her extended family and the relationships which both support and destroy individual survival. Sunja and her sister-in-law use their skills as cooks and their limited resources to survive by selling food. Sunja’s secret, the identity of her son Noa, becomes both a resource and a burden. Noa’s suicide centers on his struggle to accept his Korean identity in a Japanese world. The game of pachinko is both a thematic motif evoking chance and hope, as well as a means of employment and survival for Koreans in Japan.  We enjoyed our wide-ranging discussion of Pachinko, and ended before we had managed to cover everything the book brought up.

Our next book will be Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. We will meet via Zoom on Wednesday, February 3. Meeting starts at 11 am. However, the Zoom link will be open at 10:30, to make sure everyone can  establish a good connection.

Please contact Kathryn DeGraff or Helen Marlborough if you have any questions.

We enjoy catching up with our former colleagues and enjoy welcoming new members to the group. Zoom meetings have provided a great way for colleagues not in the immediate vicinity of the Lincoln Park Campus to participate.