Learning Through Discovery
Delia Cook Gillis teaches her students to examine
the world around them
By Mike Greife
Other people who read this story rated it:
(21 ratings) Rate it.
Delia Cook Gillis is curious about why things happened the way they did, particularly in her own surroundings. Throughout her career as a professor of history and director of the Africana Studies Center at the University of Central Missouri, she has seldom passed up an opportunity to satiate her own curiosity by examining history, gleaning the lessons to be learned and passed on to her students.
Her research into African American history also has afforded her opportunities to share her work with the public. Her most recent opportunity was an invitation from the U.S. Archives to share with the public her observations about the African American community in Kansas City. She explored the subject in her 2007 book, "Kansas City," a pictorial history of the city's African American community. She has lectured on many aspects of African American life, exploring desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s and sharing stories of the people and events.
Her interest in the stories of generations past perhaps comes from her own heritage. The daughter of a brick mason and a reading teacher, she was raised in rural Mecklenburg County, Va., where she grew up in a household of three generations under one roof, and family and education were important. After receiving her bachelor's degree in business and marrying, she entered a career in investment banking in Germany, where her husband was stationed with the U.S. Air Force.
It was when the family returned to the United States to be stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base that Gillis began to explore her opportunities for graduate study in history.
She chose UCM.