Carolyn, We Will Remember You Forever 

On the passing of Brown School professor, Dr. Carolyn Lesorogol.

Written by Dr. Shenyang Guo, Frank J. Bruno Distinguished Professor of Social Work Research.

When my friend called me to inform me the sad news shortly after Carolyn’s passing away on May 17, I was completely shocked and saddened. I couldn’t sleep that whole night. Carolyn is such a true scholar, mentor, colleague, and friend! Her legacy will endure forever. 

Many of us who heard of Carolyn at the first time were all amazed by her incredible accomplishments, or the mystical corona around her. She graduated from Harvard, was mentored during her PhD study by the famous Nobel Prize winner Douglass North, published articles multiple times in Science magazine, and served as the President of American Association of Economic Anthropology. However, when we had the chance to work with her for a bit more time, we quickly found that, most importantly, she was a true human being, a nice person with golden heart, and a friend that you could count on and trust!  

I was just one of those fortunate people who had the chance to work with her closely during her last a few years. She was my office neighbor – whenever I had questions or issues needing help, I could get her help so quickly and easily. She read some of my manuscripts before I went to submission and provided me with detailed revision advisements.  

As the Associate Dean for Global Programs at Brown School, she worked closely with me to develop our Master of Social Policy (MSP) program. We traveled together to China five times. She laid down the fundamental principles of our school’s strategic planning of global programs. She invented the mission of our MSP, which is, “Train the Next Generation of Global Social Policy”. With diligent work  together, during Carolyn’s tenure of the Associate Dean for Global Programs, we recruited approximately 70 MSP students from China. The key was to equip our many young scholars in China with new knowledge and thinking styles with many of our young scholars in China, who have become the bridge between the two greatest peoples in the World.  

Carolyn was really a role model of us in many ways. In my view, the most exemplary personality was her courage, strength, and persistence to fight against disease, and more generally, evils of any kind. The last a few years of her life was really a torture to her. However, as Sarah correctly said: “She was absolutely heroic throughout the course of the disease, facing it as she faced everything.” I remembered that just one month before her passing away, she attended our faculty meeting and shared her invaluable opinion, as always, with us. I couldn’t imagine what kind of strength supporting her perseverance and letting her work until the last minute of her life! 

On May 17 at 8:41 PM, I posted an obituary on to the Chinese social media WeChat. Shortly within three hours, about 100 people from China, mainly her former students and collaborators from WashU’s partner universities, responded and expressed their sadness and shocking feeling. To reflect condolence from this community, I and Linyun Fu (our former manager of Global Programs) are collecting reminiscences and remembrances from China. We will present the collections to Carolyn’s family at the memorial meeting celebrating her heroic life. 

Carolyn, you are always with us and live in our heart!