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Late professor to be honored Saturday

May 21, 2015

Carol Marshall, left, cheers on Emporia State University glass-blowing students working on the Children Inspire Glass project.

An Emporia State University professor who shunned the spotlight during life will be remembered Saturday during activities at Eastside Memorial Park, Ninth Avenue and East Street. 

The public is invited to celebrate and to honor the life’s work and generosity of long-time educator Dr. Carol Marshall. Activities will begin at 5 p.m. and will include a picnic, music, and a brief ceremony in her honor, followed by the annual Eastside Park Memorial Service. Those who attend the picnic are asked to bring a covered dish and lawn chairs; meat and beverages will be provided.

Marshall served the university for more than 35 years, and provided for its future upon her death on Dec. 24, 2014, through a substantial legacy gift from the Carol F. Marshall Trust to the Emporia State Foundation.

Marshall had requested that no obituary be published or formal service held.

“She just wanted to have a picnic at the park,” said Marshall’s colleague and friend Dr. Carol Russell, professor of elementary education, early childhood and special education at Emporia State.

Marshall had invested much of herself and her resources in helping the Eastside Community Group develop the park’s enhancements, including a pavilion, a shelter, an obelisk and more, Russell said.

Marshall had reached deeply into an overlooked segment of Emporia history, leading a local collaboration with Elizabeth Williams and the late Nellie Essex to create a detailed history of African-Americans in this area; their focus was on a section of Emporia known as “Stringtown.” The result of the research, “Black Emporia: Interpretations and Connections” was donated to the university’s Special Collections & Archives at William Allen White Library on campus.

Her generous estate gift will provide long-term support to preserve and enhance the collection, according to Ashley Todd-Diaz, assistant professor and curator of special collections and archives.

“We lost a great teacher when Carol passed away, so I think her legacy has helped us have the ability to move forward with this project and open some additional doors, to be able to achieve some additional projects that otherwise we might never have been able to,” Todd-Diaz said. “Carol really was dedicated to various projects in her life, and this is one I think she wanted to succeed as well as it could.”

The gift will accomplish that goal. Initial plans are to use the gift to promote the collection through exhibits and other outreach opportunities, and to expand materials in the collection and preserve them for the future at a museum level of quality.

“In Special Archives, we’re working with one-of-a-kind materials,” Todd-Diaz said. “You can get into bidding wars; they can be very expensive.”

The collection is expected not only to be available to the campus and to the community, but for international use as well.

“We would like to digitize it to make it accessible, so not just people in Emporia can access it, but that people around the world can utilize her collection,” Todd-Diaz explained. “Just in terms of the actual materials, there’s a lot of expense that goes into preservation, to make sure that they’re here to enjoy not only today, but 100 years down the road.”

In keeping with Marshall’s passion for teaching children, area school children and their teachers will be encouraged to visit the collection and learn from it.

Marshall had started the early childhood education program at Emporia State in the mid-1960s, making the university one of the first in Kansas to include pre-kindergarten education into the curriculum. She also is credited with creating the early childhood special education program.

“Even after she retired, she continued to work on projects,” Russell said. “There was not much grass under her feet. She was a pretty active lady.”

Throughout her career, Marshall had collaborated with experts in a variety of fields to create better programs and opportunities for educating both children and the teachers who would educate them. Russell said Marshall had developed relationships ranging from the Menninger Clinic to authorities involved with the Reggio Emilia Approach system in Italy, one of whom she brought to Emporia for a workshop. Marshall also collaborated to begin the Butcher Education Center on campus and was involved in numerous accrediting programs to set teaching standards.

Her passion for educating children and her well-known appreciation of art often came together in special projects. After retirement, she helped sponsor an interdisciplinary creative project, “Children Inspire Glass,” though Emporia State University for children 5 to 10 years of age.

The project was a cooperative effort between the children, their families, faculty from Elementary Education/Early Childhood/Special Education and Art, and glass-blowing students. Children each drew a creature, created it in clay, and wrote a narrative about it as part of the class held last summer at Emporia Arts Council. The youngsters were invited to the studio on campus to watch the glassblowing process and give approval, as Emporia State’s masters glass students translated the drawings into finished art for special exhibits in January at EAC and in the Norman R. Eppink Gallery on campus in March.

“She came down every day and watched the children’s creations being put into glass form,” Russell said. “She didn’t want the spotlight, she didn’t want to have a whole lot of attention on her, but she liked seeing what was done.”

Marshall died a few weeks before the works first went on special exhibit in mid-January.

Another children’s exhibit she was involved in is ESU Children’s Art Gallery in Visser Hall, and selected pieces from her personal art collection are on display in Staton Gallery in the Memorial Union on campus.

Russell learned the full extent of Marshall’s diverse involvements when she and her husband were asked to clear away belongings from Marshall’s house earlier this year. The late professor had quietly and generously had a hand in many other charitable activities, including the Symphony in the Flint Hills, Camp Alexander, supporting students studying abroad and helping provide start-up funds for former students’ ventures.

“She made you work for it,” Russell said. “Accountability was big. But she always enjoyed seeing the outcome and seeing what happened.”

The program on Saturday to honor Marshall will begin at 5:30 pm., with a choir performance; Words of Gratitude from Jennifer Denton, Emporia State University Foundation vice president of stewardship and administration and associate vice president for university advancement; and an invocation by the Rev. Chester Morris, followed by the picnic.

In case of inclement weather, the Dr. Carol Marshall memorial picnic will be held in Sauder Alumni Center, 1500 Highland St.

At 7 p.m., a community-wide annual Eastside Park Memorial Service will begin.

Planned gifts such as Marshall’s are a vital component of Now & Forever: The Campaign for Emporia State University. This five- to seven-year effort with a working goal of $45 million already is the most successful fundraising initiative in university history, with financial commitments now exceeding $36 million.

For more information about Now & Forever giving opportunities, contact the Emporia State University Foundation, 620-341-5440.

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