Mentor to a Wanderer

My years in the maw of higher education didn't guide me into traditional pursuits. In fact, my first and still most significant experience that lead me to the work I've done in the nonprofit sector was at the Office of Economic Opportunity in the so-called War on Poverty. And I stumbled into that because I was stumbling around Roosevelt University in Chicago. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

The man about whom the following words pertain was for this Hyde park/Chicago/University of Chicago drifter someone I revered. His well of experience and passion were moving, and his door was always open. More's the pity that I did not stay longer under his tutelage...

Kermit Eby (1903-1962) was a teacher, labor leader, and a minister of the Church of the Brethren. He received his B.A. degree from Manchester College in 1927 and was awarded the M.A. degree by the University of Chicago in 1931. During the 1930's, Eby taught high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There, he first became involved in the labor movement. Not only was Eby instrumental in founding the Ann Arbor teachers' union, but he also helped organize the auto workers in Michigan - a turbulent chapter in American labor history. From 1937 to 1942, Eby served as executive secretary of the Chicago Teachers' Union. He joined the Education and Research section of the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1943, and became director of that bureau in 1945.

The University of Chicago appointed Kermit Eby associate professor of social science in 1948 and full professor in 1950. During his tenure at the University, Eby contributed numerous articles to national, religious, and labor periodicals; he maintained contact with his acquaintances in political, labor and other pressure groups; and he was active in politics and the civil rights movement. As a teacher, Eby continually challenged his students to make use of their formal education in "getting their hands dirty" in grass roots political and labor activity.