Kathy Dewenter, the Joshua Green Professor of Finance, died in February after a long battle with cancer. A former PACCAR Award winner, Kathy was an indelible figure in Foster School classrooms for more than a quarter century. We can think of no better way to honor her legacy than through the words of two Foster undergrads who took her final course.
Throughout our lives, we meet thousands of people, but few who leave a permanent impression on us.
On rare occasions we meet someone whose impact transcends the time that you spent with them. Professor Dewenter was that kind of person for me.
I had heard about her course from several friends. A mentor said it was “the best course you can take—don’t miss it.” A friend told me, “I’ve never had to think harder in my life.” Another put it more bluntly: “She’s the most badass woman I’ve ever met… She’s scary.”
When I showed up to class on the first day, Kathy didn’t look the way I expected. She was shorter than I had imagined. Her hair was gone, her hands shook, and she was visibly suffering the effects of chemo.
Yet you never would have guessed that there was anything wrong with her from the way she spoke, thought and taught.
And she pushed us hard. I’ve never met someone who could take apart an argument so effectively. When she looked at you, you felt like you were being x-rayed.
When I heard that she was working on our course even in her final days, I felt guilty. Who was I to deserve the precious time of this incredible woman? Yet I know she wouldn’t have had it any other way. She was not the kind of person who let something stand in the way of doing what she meant to do. Her care for her students never diminished.
I feel honored, humbled and grateful to have been one of her final students. And I know that, for me and countless others, her place in our hearts and minds will never fade.
–Skye Scofield (BA 2019)
Kathy was the epitome of tough love, and her high standards produced more cohesive effort from a group of students than I have ever witnessed.
She never babied us or accepted anything less than a well-conceived and articulated answer. This forced us to learn quickly and helped me realize that I am more capable than I had previously believed.
There was no fooling Kathy, and never even the thought of messing around in class. If she was able to push through weekly chemotherapy and still come to each lecture fully prepared, what possible excuse could we have? Her determination never wavered, and she refused to let the cancer define her.
There was never a doubt about her sharp mind, her heroic strength, or her kind intentions. Until the very end, we knew that she never wanted our pity—she would prefer that we remember her by continuously seeking improvement as young professionals and global citizens.
I wish I could quantify the impact Kathy has made on me in five short weeks—and then create an exhibit to put at the end of a write-up, in 12-point font, just the way she preferred. But I can say I will carry her teachings and fiery personality with me forever.
I aspire to someday be a brilliant, trailblazing and remarkable woman, just like her. I am so grateful for the time that we had.
–Rose Jao (BA 2018)