Shannon Delaney was a tireless supporter of the students, staff and alumni at the University of Chicago in her role as associate director of administration and planning in the office of Career Advancement. Delaney, 35, died of natural causes at her home in Chicago on Friday, Nov. 9.
Delaney came to the University in 2010 and embraced the Career Advancement mission of helping students and alumni prepare for professional success across all fields.
“Higher education was Shannon’s passion, and she was incredibly dedicated to helping the students be as successful as possible,” said Meredith Daw, director of the office of Career Advancement. “She cared a lot for the people in our office, and loved supporting the students in multiple ways.”
Delaney was originally from the rural town of Boxford, Mass., and felt drawn to helping young people even in high school, when she volunteered as a Big Sister to vulnerable children. As an undergraduate at Goucher College in Baltimore, when she worked in the office of student activities, she discovered that she was particularly well-suited to working with college students. Delaney pursued a Masters of Higher Education Administration at the University of Delaware, and interacted with hundreds of students as a director in the on-campus residence life system.
Her former classmate and friend Joanne Legler, who now works as associate director of admissions at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, said it was a perfect fit for a woman who loved to guide and mentor young people as they experienced the changes of college life. “We interacted with the students in so many ways, from programming activities to crisis management,” Legler said. “Shannon really found her niche there.”
Delaney moved to Chicago in 2006, and quickly created a rich community of friends in her new home. Legler recalls that Delaney would arrange Sunday brunch every week with a group of five girlfriends, and often organized trips to outdoor concerts, movies and events around the city.
“She was a natural hostess, and planned Thanksgiving dinner with her adopted family of friends in Chicago every year,” Legler said. Delaney had plans to again host a group of friends, including her boyfriend of two years, for Thanksgiving dinner at her home next week.
Delaney was an avid runner and raised money for the American Cancer Society through the Chicago Half Marathon, motivated by the loss of a close friend to cancer at a young age. “Cancer research is a cause that was near to Shannon’s heart,” said her mother, Christine Delaney.
When Delaney joined Career Advising and Planning Services (now Career Advancement), her talents with students quickly made her an integral part of the program.
“Shannon was a considerate and thoughtful colleague, and her diligent work behind the scenes was crucial to the programming and support that students receive from Career Advancement,” said Daw.
Delaney would often bring in treats for the staff on particularly busy days, Daw recalled, and celebrated the successes of everyone in the office.
“Shannon loved her job, and she loved Chicago,” her mother said.
Funeral services are planned for Monday, Nov. 19 in Topsfield, Mass. The University will hold a memorial service in Delaney’s honor at a date to be determined.