Payton Memorial Guestbook Entry

I was working in the Development Office at the University of Chicago and contemplating whether or not to pursue a doctoral program when an alumnus name came across my desk: Robert Payton.  Reading his title was my introduction to the Center on Philanthropy and, upon further research, I learned the doctoral program I was searching for might soon be created.  Seven years later, I was sitting across from Mr. Payton in a doctoral seminar, and it was well worth the wait. 

  •  When he learned that I was a Chicago alumnus, he arrived at our next class with a bag full of books for me about the University of Chicago from his library…
  • When I shared that I hated writing, he prescribed that writing two hours each day would take care of that, and then quickly turned his attention to what I would be exploring in my writing… and
  • When he learned my husband and I were pregnant with our first child that semester, he spent time showing me family pictures that covered the walls of his library and he provided a warm lecture about the importance of family in our lives and work, when he and Polly invited our class to their home.

Mr. Payton left these types of memories with all his students.  By genuinely listening, he was able to identify the best in his students and to encourage them to pursue their potential.  His seemingly natural abilities for teaching and mentoring encouraged students to embrace their responsibility for finding their place in the world.  His decades of thought about philanthropy have benefited us all; yet, I most fondly recall his nurturing leadership and his devotion to sharing the message that we each have the ability – and responsibility – to improve the human condition.  Thank you, Bob.