Daniel Kohl earned a Ph.D. in Zoology from Washington University in St. Louis in 1965 and taught at WUSTL until he retired in 2003 as Professor Emeritus of Biology. During the 40 years Daniel has been part of the WUSTL community, he has gone above and beyond his professional responsibilities to engage and help students, friends, neighbors, family members and complete strangers struggling around him. It is this work on an individual level that characterizes Daniel’s ethic of service.
In 1961, Daniel and a group of civically active St. Louisans, including current Mayor of Clayton, Ben Uchitelle, formed the Freedom of Residence, Greater St. Louis Committee to promote fair housing among all persons. At this time when St. Louis was highly segregated by race, an interracial couple approached the committee to seek support after being denied the opportunity to buy a suburban house. Through the committee’s work and Daniel’s fundraising efforts, this case (Jones v. Mayer, 1968) was fought and won in the U.S. Supreme Court, representing a monumental victory for equal rights.
More recently, when a long term neighbor died and her 40-year old son with schizophrenia was left without adequate support, Daniel connected him with a nonprofit agency to assist him with day-to-day needs and still helps support him when he encounters legal difficulties. Through the Prison Performing Arts (PPA) program, for which he is currently Vice President of the Board, Daniel has acted as a friend, advocate and mentor for several prison inmates involved in the program in addition to promoting and raising funds for the organization.
Daniel’s relationships with his neighbors parallel the impact he has had on the students he mentors and advises at WUSTL. His nomination packet included four lengthy and sincere letters from students (Ed Wise ‘75, Han Cho ‘94, Jennifer Haro ‘97 and Jennifer Lee ‘06) whose lives were changed forever as a result of Daniel’s compassionate intervention. Ed Wise, now a successful clinical psychologist, writes “There are few people in life who are capable of leaving a mark on another’s soul, not to mention on a community of souls, and Danny Kohl has demonstrated throughout his adult life that he is one of those few, gifted men.”