Remembering Professor Lou Michel

November 27, 2023

Lecture hall in Wescoe Hall where I took 3 semesters of architectural history with Lou Michel. He would lecture from a podium in the left corner. I would sit in the center section in the middle at least halfway up or closer.

Last Wednesday night, I found out that one of my professors at KU had passed away in October. Professor Lou Michel taught architectural history. I sat in his class for three semesters as he took us from ancient cultures to Greek and Roman, to the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and up to modern times.

He supplemented his lectures with thousands of photographs that he had captured from all around the world. I loved his lectures and the stories he would share. He shared the facts but then went beyond to help us what about those works connected with us as people. Those classes gave me a great appreciation for architecture and art.

I remember hearing about Lou Michael before I took my first class from him in my second year. My good friend, Derek, started taking his classes a year earlier than I did. He raved about Lou Michel and was always very excited when he talked about him or told me about one of his lectures. It built up a lot of anticipation of when I would sit in his lectures.

When I think about a professor, Lou Michel fits the stereotype. He had glasses and gray hair and dressed like you would expect a professor to dress. He had a warm voice and personality. He loved talking and spending time with his students. I enjoyed many conversations with him in his office.

He was also kind enough to accept our invitations to our scholarship dinners in my fraternity. I loved being able to interact with him at those dinners. He was a beloved professor because he made himself available to his students. And he was a man of great character that walked the walk.

I thought a lot about those lectures when I finally had the chance to travel to Florence and Rome in 1997. It was such a thrill to experience the architecture in person that he had introduced me to all those years ago in Lawrence.

I enjoyed experiencing architecture like the Duomo in Florence after being introduced to them in Lou Michel’s classes at the University of Kansas.

I thought of him as I climbed the steps inside the Duomo and got to see the two-shell structure he spent most of a class period telling us about. I thought of those lectures when I got to experience the Spanish Steps and Trevvi Fountain at night in Rome. And I thought of him as I stepped inside the Pantheon and got to enjoy that wonder in person. I enjoyed those experiences and many more around Europe because of the enthusiasm and love that he conveyed in those classes.

Of all the instructors I had at KU, Lou Michel made the longest-lasting impression on me and is the one I most fondly remember. Rest in peace.

Note: I could not find a good picture of Lou Michel online. I really wish I could have included one because this is such a personal post about him. I don’t believe I have a picture with him (back before the days when we carried a portable camera in our pockets).

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