Beloved UM art professor dies unexpectedly

Dr. Marion Jefferson, a professor and specialist in art education and Associate Chair of the department of art and art history, died unexpectedly on Oct. 24 at her home in South Miami. She was 65 years old.

“[Dr. Jefferson] looked out for the welfare of the students, fellow employees and the Art Department,” said Anne C. Lemos, Lecturer in Department of Art and Art History. “She was fair, gentle and kind to all who crossed her path. She knew the answer to any question, whether it was academic or administrative.”

“I’ll miss her presence – she was always there to help,” Lemos said. According to those close to her, Dr. Jefferson’s life was filled with accomplishments.

In 1972, she received a Ph.D. in Art Education from FSU and began teaching at the UM School of Education, where from 1976 to 1989 she served as the Coordinator of the Program in Art Education until she joined the Department of Art and Art History in the College of Arts and Sciences.

From 1995 until her death, she served as Associate Chair of the Department of Art and Art History, a job that involved graduate and undergraduate student advising on dissertations, undergraduate honors theses, MFA projects and scheduling. She also taught ART 307, ART 499 and ART 509.

According to many of her colleagues, it will take at least two people to do Dr. Jefferson’s job.

Dr. Jefferson received many awards for distinguished service to both UM and the local community, including four teaching awards during her tenure at UM.

She was also honored by Dade Art Educators, the Dade County Art Education Association, the United Teachers of Dade, the Florida Art Education Association and the National Art Education Association.

“The awards don’t really tell the whole story,” said Dr. Michael Carlebach, interim chair of the department. “Marion is, simply, irreplaceable – she was tireless, always cheerful, and believed deeply in the essential value of education in the arts.”

Dr. Jefferson is survived by her sons John P. Jefferson and Joel W. Jefferson and grandson Jay Jefferson.

“Charity always abounded in her life,” said Joel W. Jefferson.

A special service will be held in Dr. Jefferson’s honor on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 3 p.m. in the Lowe Art Museum.

Condolences may be sent to the family in c/o Art & Art History Department, University of Miami, 1540 Levante, Coral Gables, FL 33124-2618; or contact Suzanne Nelson at 305-284-2543.

In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to the Art & Art History Department, Linda Scott, College of Arts & Science, University of Miami, P.O. Box 248004, Coral Gables, FL 33124-4620.

Jorge Arauz can be reached at