Release Date: 
Saturday, September 18, 2021

HFC chemistry professor puts a lot of “heart” into it

Hearts in a pattern on the wall, inside of a heart shape.
As a way to boost the morale of his students during the pandemic, HFC chemistry professor Dr. D. Todd Whitaker decorated his classroom with hearts.

HFC chemistry professor Dr. D. Todd Whitaker decided to boost the morale of his neighbors and his students during the coronavirus pandemic.

Whitaker’s has decorated Rooms G-2 and G-6 in the Health Science Education Center (Bldg. G) with many differently designed paper hearts.

“The hearts started when my next-door neighbor came down with COVID and it came to the point where hospitalization was the only hope. After many days of things being touch and go, he started to get better, thankfully,” said Whitaker. “When I found out he was coming home, I wanted to let him know that I was glad. I put up about a dozen hearts in the window between our houses with a ‘Welcome Home’ sign.”

Several months later, Whitaker’s neighbor on the other side of him was diagnosed with the coronavirus.

A symbol of joy

Inspired, he did it again for the second neighbor.

“I started thinking about how to show people in the neighborhood that I cared, even though I didn’t see them. So I went to town on the front window. Those are the hearts that students saw in the teaching videos during the COVID lockdown,” explained Whitaker. “To me, hearts are a symbol of joy. Those moments in life where we find joy are rare gifts. They are what I live for. Paper hearts that I present to people now are meant to tell them that I care. People who have cared for me in my times of need are important reasons I have been blessed with an abundance of joy in my life.”

He continued: “When the time finally came when I was allowed to give in-person midterm and final exams in Room G-2, I saw an opportunity to show the students how much I appreciated the opportunity to finally meet them – even if only during stressful exam situations. So I asked my colleague Alice Hull if she would help me decorate the room with hearts. She agreed, and her creations were quite beautiful. I am so glad that she got to put her heart into it too, because I know that is the kind of person she is.

"I am enjoying seeing students in class again for ‘regular’ teaching and learning this semester.”