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Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 05:43 pm

A beloved teacher, counselor and activist commemorated

The Caryl Towsley Moy, Ph.D., Endowed Fund for Collaborative Research

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Caryl Towsley Moy, Ph.D.
One day while she was a professor at what was then Sangamon State University, Dr. Caryl Moy came upon a woman standing in front of a frosty window. The woman had cleared a space and was gazing out at the wintry scene.

“Are you looking for somebody?” Caryl said.

The woman turned. “Yes,” she said. “I think I’m looking for myself.”

Warmhearted and wise, Caryl invited the woman to come with her, creating a lifelong friend. “We’ll get a cup of coffee and see if w
e can find you.”
Through all her years, in whatever she was teaching, Caryl Moy helped many students find a little more of themselves.

After a long and full life, Caryl Moy died Oct. 29, 2010. Now, through a gift from her husband and sons, this exceptional woman’s name will be long remembered through research performed at both the University of Illinois Springfield and the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

Richard Moy, founding dean of the SIU medical school, and his sons, Philip and Eric Moy, have given a $250,000 endowed fund to the University of Illinois Springfield in honor of their wife and mother, former UIS professor Dr. Caryl T. Moy. The Caryl Towsley Moy, Ph.D., Fund for Collaborative Research will support faculty from UIS and the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine who do team-based research.

Dr. Caryl Moy taught in the Child, Family and Community Services Program at UIS (then known as Sangamon State University) for 21 years. She also taught family practice and psychiatry as an adjunct professor at the SIU School of Medicine.

“Caryl would be delighted with the collaborative nature of this research,” said Dr. Richard Moy. “She was very comfortable at both institutions, and she would be happy to create opportunities for faculty.”

“We are deeply grateful to Dr. Moy and his sons, Phillip and Eric, for this wonderful gift,” said UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch. “I am particularly pleased that this fund will make possible team-based collaborative faculty research at UIS and the SIU School of Medicine. With support provided by the Caryl Towsley Moy, Ph.D., Endowed Fund for Collaborative Research, the research will benefit both institutions and will foster new knowledge in many important fields of inquiry.”

Caryl Moy’s honors include being named a Distinguished Professor Emerita at UIS and selection by a committee of historians as one of 12 women who made a difference in Springfield. While teaching, she also had a private family therapy practice and became the founding president of Planned Parenthood in Springfield.

According to Kevin Dorsey, dean of the SIU School of Medicine, said, “Anyone who knew Caryl Moy knows she was a force to be reckoned with. When UIS and SIU School of Medicine were beginning, Caryl was a tireless worker to help both institutions gain community support. Her intelligence, wit and fiery spirit made her a deft collaborator.”

Caryl began her career as a home economics teacher in Evergreen Park, Ill. When students began asking for information on dating and marriage, Caryl started a coeducational class to help students prepare for family life in which she included lessons on human sexuality.

Occasionally she needed her husband’s help: “On Thursdays, she put out a Question Box,” her husband Richard said, “but many weeks she had to bring the questions home so I could translate the locker talk for her.”

Her high school students began asking for more and more of what Richard calls “Can-I-See-You-Mrs.-Moy” time, and to be better prepared to help them through personal counseling, Caryl took a sabbatical to earn a master’s degree in social work.

Around this time, Richard became dean of the new Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, and the family moved to Springfield. Richard says, “Within weeks, the boys and I voted unanimously that she had to get out of the house. She just couldn’t have all that intelligence and energy bottled up! She was thinking up one thing after another for us to do.”

She worked briefly as a counselor at Lincoln Land Community College, then “out of the blue” Robert Spencer, the first president of Sangamon State University, recruited Caryl to teach in the Child and Community Services program.

At the time, according to Richard, Sangamon State University had the nickname “Do Your Own Thing” university, and at first the other faculty in the program referred to her as “Mrs. Super Straight.” She soon won them over with her excellent teaching and easy way with students, and the name disappeared.

“Although they did send a small delegation to her,” Richard said, “asking if she could dress a little more ‘scruffy.’”

Over time, SSU became a much more mature institution and, with her husband’s encouragement, Caryl earned a Ph.D. in health education from SIU. Using her gifts of teaching and counseling, with Elam Nunnally she co-authored a textbook, Communication Basics for Human Service Professionals (SAGE Human Services Guides). Both achievements helped her qualify for promotion to full professor. To her SSU duties she added her work as an adjunct professor at the SIU School of Medicine.

Richard says, “Caryl was a very intelligent, creative, high-energy person.” In all the years she taught, she never gave a true-false or multiple choice examination. All her tests were essay questions because she wanted to know how her students’ minds were progressing in her course.

Her standards were also extremely high for students. “Wherever we traveled,” says Richard, “there she was with a lap full of essay questions, not only evaluating them for their content but correcting punctuation, syntax, spelling – everything.”

Richard and his sons are pleased to honor Caryl by funding faculty research at UIS and the SIU School of Medicine. They hope the research will keep alive the memory of Caryl and the difference she made in the lives of so many students – like the woman behind the frosty window pane – and her many clients and friends.

Marilyn Kok of Decatur is associate director of grants, marketing and communication in the Office of Development at University of Illinois Springfield.
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