Having accrued more than 40 years of expertise in the field of historiography, the Hon. Judith-Rae Ross, PhD, has garnered a laudable reputation as a historian, educator and writer. She attended Michigan State University, graduating in 1967 with a Bachelor of Arts in history and was proud to have succeeded as a woman in academia during a time when cultural expectations for women were limited. Dr. Ross earned a Master of Arts at Loyola University in 1971 and completed a PhD in history at the University of Illinois in 1978.
From 1979 until 1980, Dr. Ross served as an instructor at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, Illinois. She continued her career as a visiting professor at the University of Illinois during the 1984 to 1985 academic year and taught at DePaul University from 1988 until 2006. During her time at DePaul, Dr. Ross created curriculum and pioneered courses in women’s history, the Holocaust and several topics relevant to Chicago’s cultural history.
Dr. Ross comes from a family that pushed education; her two first cousins were doctors and her brother was a physicist. Her father would read Charles Dickens to her as a young child and she later completed an honors English course, which was taught by a wonderful woman by the name of Elizabeth Hobbs. She taught her “The Tale of Two Cities” and Dr. Ross was entranced by it. She also credits her paternal grandmother, who was always buying her medieval stories and reading them to her. She liked the past and was curious about it. When she got to college, she took a medieval course with Dr. Richard Sullivan and fell in love with medieval history, and decided that medieval history was what she wanted to do.
Dr. Ross has presented more than a thousand papers and articles at conferences across the United States and Eastern Europe. Throughout a career suffused with highlights, she was particularly proud to have delivered a presentation on Illinois politics before an audience that included former Polish president Lech Walesa. Dr. Ross has been a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Political Marketing and a guest writer for the Pioneer Press. She has been the president of her local chapter of the honor society of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.
Dr. Ross’ greatest professional achievement has been bringing things to light that have never been brought to light before, as well as inspiring others. She once taught a course on the history of politics, through which she told her students that they must find a figure in the city of Chicago and work with them on a campaign. She would not judge them on which party they chose. One of them went to State Rep. Iris Martinez and Dr. Ross was impressed by the fact that she wrote a letter to her. Recently, Rep. Martinez was elected as clerk of the circuit court and another student became active in the Young Chicago Democrats.
Dr. Ross considers herself very lucky to have married her husband, Allen. Fortunately, they both liked classical music and were married five months after they met. He was always there for her, and she loves him far more now and that kind of love they had together fostered everything she did. Dr. Ross also had a strong faith in God and always felt that when things got very tiresome, God was there.