Leslie and I were hired by the Graduate School and the former Center for Teaching Effectiveness (now DIIA) in the summer of 1998 to work with international graduate student instructors, Leslie as a teacher, and I as a conference coordinator, to support a state mandated international teacher certification program.
Meeting Leslie is like encountering a supernova. Even in the simple, mundane act of nuking a single corn tortilla with a slice of cheese on top, she was preternaturally* present in everything she did. My first thought was,
"Wow. This is a holy woman."
And she was.
Leslie's formidable intellect and compassionate regard for humanity are reflected in her accomplishments. She was in the vanguard of thinkers and movers in instructional technology throughout her career. Her recent grant that I write about elsewhere (and scooped Linden Labs) is visionary--her ability to spark visions in everyone she met was extraordinary.
And she's been doing this for a long time. She was the first person to submit a digitized doctoral dissertation, of which she was most proud. I knew she was in the Peace Corps, but only recently learned that she was regional director for Latin America. I knew she was a spiritual being, because our first conversation was about Pema Chodron, but I didn't know to what extent until she came back from a multi-week silent Bhuddist retreat in Colorado with a broken elbow.
I knew she was musical, but I didn't know that she was part of a virtual orchestra which I had briefly considered joining. I knew she was courageous, because I met her just after her first illness. That she fearlessly and joyously celebrated the last days of her life humbled and inspired me.
Leslie coined the term homo virtualis, and in doing so, described herself, just as she manifested the first dissertation on DVD by describing the world that she created herself.
Leslie gave her passion and energy to others until the end. Mutual friend and colleague Joe Sanchez, co-founder of the Educators Co-op, asked her what message she had to give to the world. She replied, "Tell them it's been REAL."
Tomorrow night I will celebrate Leslie's life with family and friends far and wide, communities expanding exponentially.
Tonight I give thanks for my friend Leslie, who gave me hope and a kick in the awareness pants.
Cool stuff about Leslie.
In world here. Bluewave Ogee
Friends' tributes, interviews, and articles about Leslie's ground-breaking work
here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
*snagged that description from another person who wrote about meeting Leslie for the first time