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2021 Impact Report

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Dr. David Zola Coffee Bar Honors His Legacy

Dr. Susan Zola at the dedication of the Dr. Zola Coffee Bar

David Zola served as a teaching professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, pouring his wisdom and wit into students at all levels until his passing in 2018.

As many of the 30,000-some Illini he taught over three decades can attest, the late David Zola “loved meeting and mentoring students over coffee,” says his wife Susan, the recently-retired superintendent of Champaign Unit 4 Schools pictured here. “Hence, the Dr. Zola Coffee Bar honoring David.”

On a Tuesday in mid-September, faculty, staff, students, and alumni gathered in Suite 110 of the Education Building to officially dedicate the Dr. Zola Coffee Bar. Attendees enjoyed coffee, tea, and cake while conversations flowed throughout the space that has been intentionally designed to deepen connection and enhance community. Both Susan Zola and Dean James D. Anderson shared stories of Professor David Zola’s passion for teaching and his impact on future educators.

“It’s important that we acknowledge and honor not just him, but our relationships with David. So I feel like this space really isn’t about the coffee, it’s about being present,” said Zola. “About taking time to be in the moment, to listen. David was exceptionally good at this.”

Dean Anderson, whose teaching career at Illinois began one year after Zola’s did (as he was reminded of, often!), had this to say about his long-time colleague and friend: “I do have a long tenure here, and I have seen many great professors come through the College of Education. If we could train up a whole fleet of teachers that cared about their students like David Zola did, we would be doing things right,” said Anderson.