College mourns student whose smile ‘could light up a room’

Ruth George—she liked to be called “Ruthie”—was an exceptional and engaged student who stood out, even in a full lecture hall.

“It was apparent that she was here to learn, and that she thoroughly enjoyed learning,” said Tracy Baynard, associate professor of kinesiology and nutrition, who taught the AHS sophomore in her fall semester course, Introduction to Exercise Science and Health.

“Ruthie not only possessed book smarts, but she was a genuine person,” Baynard said. With 200 students in the course, “she was one I could look at in class to determine if my lecture was making sense or not, and she always provided a laugh or a smirk at my goofy jokes.”

George, 19, a Berwyn resident, was found dead Nov. 23  in her car in the Halsted Street parking garage on campus. A Chicago man was arrested and charged with first-degree murder Nov. 25.

Ruth George was an active member of Delta Epsilon Mu, a campus pre-health professions fraternity.


A kinesiology major who planned a career in physical therapy, she was an active member of Delta Epsilon Mu, a campus pre-health professions fraternity. Members organized a vigil in her memory Nov. 25.

As fundraising chair for Delta Epsilon Mu, she planned and coordinated four events this semester to support the chapter’s philanthropies. She regularly exceeded the chapter’s two-hours-per-week volunteer requirement in her work at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, said chapter president Kevin Roy.

“Ruth George was a highly talented and motivated student whose energy and good spirits endeared her to teachers, fellow students—everyone in the AHS community. We grieve for her loss, and for the loss of the great health professional she would have become,” said Bo Fernhall, AHS dean.

A student in the Honors College, she was known as “friendly, passionate and dedicated—really excited about being at UIC and pursuing a degree leading to physical therapy,” said Honors College associate dean Stacie McCloud.

“Some people can light up a room,” said Michele McCrillis, Honors College assistant dean, “and Ruthie was one of those people.”

As a student in McCrillis’ seminar class on documentary photography and film,  “she enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to explore and experiment with ideas outside her major,” McCrillis said. “But it’s her smile that I remember, and will miss, the most.”

She was also a student employee in the Academic Computing and Communications Center.

After her death was announced, the AHS dean’s office organized support services for students and staff. Counselors and canine support dogs were available throughout the day in the Physical Education Building.

About 125 people gathered to remember her Nov. 25 in Student Center East, where one of her professors read the recommendation letter he would have sent to future graduate schools on her behalf.

“Ruthie was a gifted individual in many regards. She was compassionate, enthusiastic, sincere, and incredibly dedicated to her studies. She never missed an opportunity to help one of her peers,” said Tomer Kanan, clinical assistant professor of kinesiology and nutrition, who teaches the fall semester anatomy and physiology course she was taking.

“I believe Ruthie would have made incredible contributions in her future.”

The college is collecting notes of condolence, to be sent to her family, in the Academic Support and Achievement Program office, 356 PEB, where students are welcome to stop by for support. Faculty, staff and students who would like to contribute notes, or who are affected by the loss, can also contact Renee Taylor, AHS associate dean for academic and faculty affairs,