Farewell to a Compassionate Face of SLU

Annie Neidel, Ph.D., program manager of the Honors Program, passed away on Nov. 15 at the age of 41 due to breast cancer. How- ever, her legacy at SLU will live on with every student and coworker that she has touched.

Talking with students and coworkers, it’s clear that one cannot talk about the upbeat positive Neidel without mentioning her compassion and sincerity. What truly seemed to set Neidel apart from the crowd was her inimitable level of genuineness that was evident in everything she did.

Neidel had numerous roles at SLU, including professor for an Honors class, advisor for scholarships and grants, boss and coworker. More than that, in all those different roles, she was also a friend who cared.

“She was someone who brought an aura into an office or classroom,” said Robert Pampel, director of the Honors Program.

Ester Gilbert, a senior Presidential Scholar at SLU, remembers Neidel as the face of SLU, because she was the first professor Ester met upon moving in; Neidel had arranged a small welcome session for her Crossroads class. She was always a professor that taught and practiced the Jesuit mission by welcoming people of all backgrounds. She focused on the importance of reflection and encouraged her students to apply knowledge to all aspects of life, whether it was family or career related.

According to Gilbert, a word to describe Neidel would be “informative.” Because of her compassion and understanding, Neidel really took the word “informative” to the next level and gave it a new meaning.

For the past four years, Neidel had been teaching all the first-year Presidential Scholars the Honors Crossroads class. Ester calls Neidel “the lynchpin of the Presidential Scholars,” a presence that was uniform to and bonded all the scholars and thus one that will be heavily missed in the Presidential Scholars community.

As an advisor for competitive scholarships and grants, Neidel always made it known to her students that she was ready and willing to have an appointment anytime.

The Honors Program hopes that they can find someone to fill in Neidel’s large shoes, for she was an advisor with “compassionate listening skills,” according to Pampel. She would listen to students pour out all their ambitions, and then artfully channel them to the right opportunities.

Abby Block is a senior who never experienced Neidel as a teacher, but rather for the past year and a half worked at the front desk of the Honors office. Although Neidel was her boss, Block prefers to think of her as more of her mentor. Neidel made coming to work something to be excited about with her warm and lively greetings in the morning.

Neidel was someone who you could “always count on to bring cheerfulness and optimism to the office,” said Pampel. Block remembers Neidel as someone whose office she would feel comfortable to pop into randomly because she was “super receptive and open to just chatting” about anything, whether it was about your weekend or new hobbies.

More words that have been used to describe Neidel include charismatic, supportive and loyal. She was loyal to her friends and family as well as to the Jesuit mission that SLU upholds. Those who were privileged to personally know Annie Neidel are lucky. To those, like me, learning about Annie only through anecdotes, she is truly an inspiration with exceptional qualities we can hope to learn to master in our own lives someday.