Dr. Eleni Roulis, longtime faculty and staff member at the University of St. Thomas, died at home on Oct. 31 at age 75. She was diagnosed in March with a fast-growing brain tumor, glioblastoma multiforme, wild type.
A funeral reception will be held at Historic Thomson-Dougherty Funeral Home, 2535 Park Ave., Minneapolis, from 5-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18. A memorial celebration of her life will be held next spring.
Roulis worked for St. Thomas for more than 30 years. She most recently taught in the School of Education in the Department of Leadership, Policy and Administration.
"Eleni was a force of nature, and I'm glad she was on our side! She was a fierce advocate for social justice, a consummate teacher and a favorite of her students," School of Education interim Dean Amy Smith said. "Her energy, encouragement and intellect changed the lives of all she encountered. And her laugh … pure joy."
While at St. Thomas, Roulis was the chair of the Department of Teacher Education and the Department of Curriculum and Instruction for 12 years, the founder and director of the doctoral program in critical pedagogy, and the director of the Graduate Writing and Research Center. As a professor, her areas of expertise included critical pedagogy, feminist studies, sociolinguistics, research and curriculum development.
In her position as the associate vice president of academic affairs, Roulis supervised the Institutional Review Board (IRB), the Office of Service Learning and Community Engagement, the Office of Global Initiatives, the Murray Institute Advisory Board, the Graduate Curriculum Council, the English Language Services and all special projects as directed by the president.
"I learned so much from Eleni. She taught me the importance of impact. I, like so many others, was greatly impacted by her," elementary education major Lindsey Krohn '23 said. "Being in Eleni’s class felt like being home. She provided unadulterated, unconditional love and care for all of her students. She will continue to impact thousands of lives. All of those she taught to 'pass it on, and pay it forward' her kindness will continue to impact this Earth forever."
Roulis authored the book Transforming Learning for the Workplace of the New Millennium and was part of the St. Thomas team who collaborated with award-winning photographer Angélica Dass on the book The Colors We Share.
Prior to her career in higher education, Roulis spent more than a decade of teaching secondary English and French in New York City Schools. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at St. John University, her Master of Arts from New York University and her doctorate from the University of Minnesota.
The eldest child of Ethel and Thomas Roulis, Eleni Roulis is survived by her brother and sister-in-law William and Marina Roulis, sister of the heart Rosemary Rocco, sister-in-law Judy Roulis, sister Mary Najeddine and several nieces and nephews.
Memorials can be made to the Dr. Eleni Roulis Memorial Scholarship Fund, established by her family at Risen Christ Catholic School, Minneapolis 1120 E. 37th St., Minneapolis, MN, 55407, or to any organization that makes the world a better place for girls and women.