A long-time couple, in and out of the classroom

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June 24, 2014

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Helen and George Roe met when he interviewed her for a faculty position in 1983. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin/UIC Photo Services

For several decades, the accounting department has offered the rare opportunity for students to learn from a husband-and-wife team who are gifted lawyers and award-winning educators.

On June 29, that will change, when Helen Roe, who is married to fellow faculty member George Roe, retires.

Initially, Helen thought teaching would be a short-term thing.  “As the years went on and I transitioned from part-time to full-time, it began to look like I may be here a while,” she said.

Helen was an attorney for United Airlines in Chicago, then became an attorney in private practice. She is admitted to practice law before the Illinois Supreme Court, U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois.

They met when George, clinical associate professor of accounting and director of business ethics, interviewed her for a part-time position teaching business law at UIC.

I received probably at least 75 or more resumes,” recalled George, also an attorney. “All I saw were lawyers who did traffic, divorce, personal injury or criminal defense work.

“When I got to Helen’s CV, she was the only one who actually practiced what it was that we did in business law courses. This was now a ‘no-brainer.’

“I recommended to the department head that she be hired. She was. “

Their careers had come first, and marriage hadn’t been a priority for George or Helen. UIC colleagues were surprised when they announced their engagement 10 years later.

“They’re a dynamite couple,” said Cheryl Wardlow, who has worked for more than 15 years in the department’s administrative office. “They set high standards not only in teaching, but also in their personal lives.”

Her students named Helen Accounting Educator of the Year. George is a two-time Silver Circle Award winner and a College of Business Administration Distinguished Professor.

Working together has worked out “really well” for the couple, George said. “Although the students don’t believe this, we rarely talked about them at home.”

The two are “warm, friendly and always willing to do their part” in welcoming new faculty and supporting their colleagues, Wardlow said.

“They are a couple that practices what they preach — a couple that gives inspiration to our next generation.”

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