by Donna Robinson
In people’s lives, there comes a pivotal moment when they realize their true calling. For Carol Loeb, it happened one day in her 8th-grade mathematics class at Mary Institute in St. Louis. As a math lover, she relished watching her instructor who led the class with an admirable passion and knowledge for the subject. She explains, “I had this moment when I thought: ‘This is what I want to do. I want to teach and encourage others to appreciate math as much as I do.’”
Now in her 48th year teaching grades 7 through 12, Loeb still reaps “sheer pleasure in watching students grow emotionally and academically.”
Now in her 48th year teaching grades 7 through 12, Loeb still reaps “sheer pleasure in watching students grow emotionally and academically.” She may have inherited this trait from her mother, Erma Bodenheimer, who taught nursing after graduating from Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1936.
Loeb’s late husband, Jerry, who died in 2004, also shared her belief in the value of a solid education. He graduated magna cum laude in physics and mathematics from Tufts University in 1962 and earned a master’s degree in pure mathematics from Washington University two years later. After retiring as chairman of the board of May Department Stores Company in 2001, he enjoyed being an adjunct professor of marketing at Washington University’s Olin Business School.
Carol Loeb’s enthusiasm for education also is clearly apparent at Washington University. She has made an indelible mark on both the Danforth and Medical campuses, touching the lives of students, faculty and physicians.
A class act
Loeb’s distinguished teaching career began in 1963 after she earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and French from Mount Holyoke College. She taught five levels of mathematics at John Burroughs School in St. Louis and enrichment mathematics for Springboard to Learning in the Cleveland/Southwest School District. She stopped teaching full time for several years to raise her children, Kelly and Dan. Even then, she found time to substitute teach.
In 1977, her husband’s position at May Department Stores transported the family to Washington, D.C. There, Loeb taught mathematics at the Holton Arms School in Bethesda, Md., where she was honored to have children of U.S. and foreign dignitaries in her classroom. “What I get out of teaching is much more than I give. It gives me a tremendous sense of satisfaction and fulfillment,” she says.
“Occasionally I think about retiring. I may be getting closer, but I am not there yet,” she laughs.
After returning to St. Louis in 1979 with her family, Loeb carved a new niche for herself in academia — SAT and ACT preparation. She resumed teaching for John Burroughs as the SAT instructor — a position she still holds today. She also teaches SAT and ACT courses for Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School, and she mentors teachers in the art of ACT preparation. “As a pure mathematician, I did not envision myself instructing in test preparation, but I enjoy it,” Loeb says. “I am working with students who are motivated to improve their scores, which can open new doors to continue their academic careers at exceptional institutions. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to intertwine math fundamentals with test-taking techniques.”
Throughout her career, Loeb has tutored students privately — often seven days a week — and would not have it any other way. “Occasionally I think about retiring. I may be getting closer, but I am not there yet,” she laughs.
‘A loud thank you’
Loeb grew up within walking distance of Washington University. She “always thought that it was an incredible place because the students were engaged and excited. Jerry and I wanted to contribute in ways that would build on that enthusiasm.”
In 2001, they launched the Carol B. and Jerome T. Loeb Colloquium, which “provides an extraordinary opportunity to bring renowned mathematicians from other universities to the Danforth Campus,” says Gary Wihl, dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences and the Hortense & Tobias Lewin Distinguished Professor in the Humanities. “Our faculty and students benefit from Carol’s generosity, and we all appreciate what she has done to broaden the educational experience here. She is a university citizen of the first rank.”
The following year, the Loebs established the Carol B. and Jerome T. Loeb Teaching Fellows Program at the School of Medicine. The two-year fellowships allow St. Louis
physicians the opportunity to enrich the professional development of students and residents.
The couple also endowed the Carol B. and Jerome T. Loeb Professorship in Medicine in 2004. It is currently held by David J. Murray, chief of the Washington University Division of Pediatric Anesthesiology, anesthesiologist-in-chief at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and director of the Clinical Simulation Center, a joint effort of the medical school and BJC HealthCare. In 2009, Loeb established a professorship in orthopaedic surgery, held by Martin I. Boyer, chief of the Washington University Orthopaedic Hand and Wrist Service.
Larry Shapiro, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, says: “The doctors, medical students and patients who have benefited from Carol’s love of teaching and learning number in the thousands already, yet many more individuals will feel the impact of her influence in the years to come. Her commitment to clinical training and education greatly enhances our efforts at the School of Medicine. More than a supporter, Carol is one of our greatest advocates for medical education.”
“People often take medicine and education for granted,” Loeb says. “I want to articulate a loud ‘thank you’ to physicians and teachers because their work is so invaluable.”
Loeb is a life member of the Danforth Circle Dean’s Level and an annual member of the William Greenleaf Eliot Society. She serves on the School of Medicine’s National Council. During Founders Day last fall, the university presented her with the prestigious Robert S. Brookings Award.
For the past six years, she has served on the board of the Saint Louis Science Center, where she endowed the Loeb Prize for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics. In addition, she has set up scholarships at several institutions, including Tufts University and Mount Holyoke College. She has been recognized with the DuPont Foundation Scholarship for Excellence in Teaching and a Danforth Foundation grant to train teachers in enrichment mathematics. Last year, she received the International Leadership Network’s Dare to Lead Award.
“All of this falls under the big umbrella of my love of teaching and the need to recognize the unsung heroes of our society,” she concludes. “People often take medicine and education for granted. I want to articulate a loud ‘thank you’ to physicians and teachers because their work is so invaluable.”
Donna Robinson is associate director of development communications.