Memorial and impact
Dr. Catherine Caesar taught in the art department at the University of Dallas for 19 years, blessing the university with her authentic teaching style and care for students. She taught classes on both modern and contemporary art, with emphasis on viewing art itself and encouraging her students to interpret pieces accurately. After her sudden death at the end of last year, her colleagues and students were deeply affected.
The exhibit titled “Those Who Can” focused on faculties’ creative work, and Caesar was to present her current project as well as her dissertation. After her sudden death, Caesar’s colleagues shifted aspects of the art department’s exhibition to better reflect the change. The faculty wanted to do more than just leave an empty section.
Dr. Estelle Voisin, an affiliate assistant professor of art history, a member of the UD community since 2013, described the plan for honoring Caesar’s memory. They decided to station a book inside the exhibit to honor Caesar and her positive impact on UD, and the art department specifically.
“All the students and anyone else would [write] their thoughts [inside its pages]. And then we’re going to present it to her mom, Judy Caesar,” Voisin said.
The many students and faculty Caesar positively affected filled the pages of the book. The exhibition was transformed into a memorial for a dear friend and colleague.
“There was a photograph of her there and again, it was a way for friends and family and colleagues to express their condolences to Caesar or to Dr. Caesar’s family,” said Natalie Williams, an undergraduate admissions counselor and former student of Caesar.
“It was really nice to see when she brought her kids into class,” Williams reminisced. “She loved her kids, adored them. She loved her dog, a Boston Terrier named Lucy. [Caesar] was full of life and loved everyone and was loved by everyone.”
Grace Kendall, an art history major in her senior year, participated in the exhibit. “Watching her speak about the history of art was uncommonly beautiful. She genuinely cared for those she taught in her classes,” she said. “[Caesar] was deeply enthusiastic about art and really wanted her students to look hard at the beauty in front of them, and conversely, to consider the darkness found in the art world as well.”
The university lost a great professor and a source of positive influence on students’ lives. Her enthusiasm for teaching and care for students made her loss feel even greater.
“She was the one who conducted my departmental scholarship interview. It was funny because I was really nervous about taking art studio classes. I told her I’m not an artist, and I was wearing this hand knit scarf that I had made. During our conversation, she interrupted me, and she said, ‘Well, did you make that? Did you make your scarf?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ And she just exclaimed, ‘You are an artist!’ And that was her,” Williams said.
“She was a really dear, dear friend,” Voisin concluded.
UD appreciates its dedicated professors like Caesar. While the exhibit has been taken down, she will continue to be remembered and missed by friends, students and colleagues into the future. Her positive impact continues to aid the UD community, and legacies like hers uphold its mission to pursue wisdom, truth and virtue.